2018 Book #45 – The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando

51-IuvSNclLTitle: The Opposite of Here
Author: Tara Altebrando
Date finished: 6/2/18
Genre: Young adult, suspense
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: June 5 2018
Pages in book: 256
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

There’s no hiding on a cruise ship-not even from yourself. 
Natalie’s parents are taking her and her three best friends on a cruise for her seventeenth birthday. A sail-a-bration, they call it. But it’s only been a few short months since Natalie’s boyfriend died in a tragic accident, and she wants to be anywhere but here.
Then she meets a guy on the first night and sparks fly. After a moonlit conversation on a secluded deck of the ship, Natalie pops down to her cabin to get her swimsuit so they can go for a dip. But when she returns, he’s gone. Something he said makes her think he might have . . . jumped? No, he couldn’t have.
But why do her friends think she’s crazy for wanting to make sure he’s okay? Also, why do they seem to be hiding something from her? And how can she find him when she doesn’t even know his name? Most importantly, why is the captain on the intercom announcing the urgent need for a headcount?
With her signature thrilling storytelling, the author of The Leaving and The Possible explores our vulnerability to the power of suggestion-and the lies we tell others and ourselves-in a twisting, Hitchcock-inspired mystery with high stakes and dark secrets.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

The plot for this book on the cover description sounded pretty interesting, so although I didn’t know much about the author I decided to give this one a try. It was a little too teen angst-y for my tastes personally but if that kind of thing doesn’t bother you then this would be a pretty good book for you. The plot line is pretty good and takes some interesting twists and turns. The twist at the end of the book is probably the best one and kind of wrapped up all the plot and the characters into one little circle. And while I liked it, the story overall was still just so very sad. And I felt awful for Natalie, I felt like she was just like a doormat and everyone kind of walked all over her. One of her friends betrayed her pretty badly and the girl barely even apologizes but Natalie’s still fine with it. So anyways, overall I kind of liked the story but I think it would be a better fit for an actual young adult.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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2017 Book #67 – Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

512C5hRsk8LTitle: Are You Sleeping
Author: Kathleen Barber
Date finished: 8/10/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Pages in book: 333
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Josie Buhrman and her family, and how their lives are all turned upside down (again) when a woman starts a podcast to reexamine the murder of Josie’s father, Chuck. Thirteen years ago, Chuck Buhrman was murdered in his home with his twin girls in the house. A man named Warren Cave was arrested, tried and convicted on scant evidence that he had killed Chuck, and now Poppy Parnell, an “investigative journalist,” is using the case as a subject matter for her true crime podcast. Josie and her twin sister Lanie were both affected in different ways by the murder of their father and their mother’s subsequent abandonment. And after all that happened too, Lanie did some very awful things to her sister that cause Josie to run away and basically abandon her whole life. After traveling abroad for 5 years, she returns to the States and settles in New York City with her boyfriend Caleb. The podcast though, is bringing a lot of truths to light and there will be unfortunate consequences.

Overall I liked this book. There were some pieces of it that I couldn’t buy into (Josie’s reaction and the running away to Europe seemed extreme and I thought Lanie should’ve actually like apologized without trying to also be manipulative) but overall I didn’t want to put this book down. I was dying to find out who the real killer was and what would happen in the end. And maybe it was that build up of extreme tension throughout the book that made the ending kind of seem slightly anti-climactic but I think that’s how I ended up feeling. I was so intensely into the story but then at the end I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never really did. And none of the characters in the book were particularly likable, they all had so many flaws and many of them were actually awful not nice people. Even with these draw backs though I still really liked the story and I would recommend it!

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book and I couldn’t wait to see how the ending turned out. That being said I was the slightest bit disappointed in the ending because I thought it was just a tad flat. I still really liked the book though and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #107 – Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynnette Austin

51qeguopicl-_sx303_bo1204203200_Title: Picture Perfect Wedding
Author: Lynnette Austin
Date finished: 11/13/16
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablance
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Pages in book: 416
Stand alone or series: Magnolia Brides series #3
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

One mistake can change everything…forever
Beck Elliot and Tansy Calhoun were inseparable-until Tansy left Misty Bottoms, Georgia, promising to come back after she finished school. Beck stayed behind to save the family business, dreaming of the day when Tansy would return. Instead, his trust and his heart were broken when she inexplicably married another man and bore his child.
Five years later, Tansy comes home, a sadder and wiser woman. Despite his anger, Beck finds it hard to avoid her and her adorable little daughter-especially with all the busybodies of Misty Bottoms going out of their way to throw him and Tansy together, hoping a lingering spark will reignite their enduring flame…

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Beck Elliot and Tansy Calhoun (Forbes), whose story has been introduced in the previous two books in the series. What we know before this book begins is that Tansy and Beck were high school sweethearts but Tansy had gone to college and subsequently got pregnant and married another man even though her and Beck were engaged. Beck’s heart broke into a million pieces and he hasn’t been the same since. After her divorce though, Tansy decides to move back to Misty Bottoms with daughter Gracie and open her own business, a bakery. Beck says that he’s been over Tansy for years but when he keeps running into her all over town, he can’t keep denying that he doesn’t have deeper feelings for Tansy. Tansy and Beck decide to give everything another shot and try to start over, but can they really let go of all the hurts and regrets from the past and move forward?
Overall I liked this book. I’ve been waiting for this one to come out since I grew interested in the story from the tidbits mentioned in the other two books in the series. I think I may have built up the possible story line too much in my mind though since it didn’t end up as I expected. I did enjoy the book and the story line, it was sweet and romantic but to be honest I thought Beck was just too harsh in the beginning to like as a character. And the plot was a little choppy for me, there were sub plots introduced that I thought could have been made to fit better and it just didn’t flow as well as the other two had. I loved the characters though, Gracie was just such a sweet little girl and I loved how amazing her relationship with Beck was. I liked the book but this one wasn’t my favorite, I would still recommend trying it though, especially if you’re reading the first 2 in the series.

The bottom line: This was an ok book for me, it wasn’t one of my favorites but I am still glad I got to read it. Tansy and Beck had a nice story but I hate that they had to waste so much time being mad at each other. I would recommend it though.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #91 – Goddess of Suburbia

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Title: Goddess of Suburbia
Author: Stephanie Kepke
Date finished: 8/27/15
Genre: Women’s fiction
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Publication Date: August 10, 2015
Pages in book: 218
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Suburbia meets scandal in this hopeful and honest portrayal of that moment in every woman’s life when it’s time to make a change, even if that means risking losing it all. Goddess of Suburbia by Stephanie Kepke is a must-read for women looking to reconnect with their passions, and live authentically. When pillar of the community and PTA mom, Max, allowed her husband, Nick, to record a sex video of them on his cell phone, she thought of it as simply a way to keep Nick interested and entertained during his frequent business trips. But suddenly, Max is trending everywhere—her video lighting up the blogosphere and Twitter, thanks to the fact that she’s a genuine, imperfect woman. Now the paparazzi are chronicling her every move; her daughter wants to disown her; and her marriage has completely fallen apart. Just as things can’t get any more chaotic, Max’s college boyfriend, shows up two decades after he broke her heart. Now Max must learn to stop going through the motions of her life on auto-pilot and start living authentically, or risk forever being a suburban lemming running towards the cliff of old age.

My rating: 3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it is #12 on list from my sign up post. I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about Max Green, who overnight turns into a local celebrity when a sex tape of her is leaked to the press and spreads in popularity on the internet. Everyone starts being all judge-y, which honestly I felt was pretty stupid since the sex tape was of her having sex with her husband, not some random stranger. I don’t want to go too far into plot and what goes on because there was a lot happening and I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone with spoilers.
Overall I liked the book. It was edging towards fast-paced and it kept my interest throughout the story. Max really grew as a character through the story and it was excellent to see her ending up more sure of her strength than ever. It was hard to watch her suffer in the beginning of the book, she suffered from a lot of self-doubt and it affected a lot of different pieces of her life. She had support from her best friend Andi, who was a little too pushy at a couple points but that was exactly what Max really needed to get her but in gear and figure out what she was doing with herself. One of the things I didn’t necessarily like about this book was that I didn’t think the bad guys really got their karmic punishment in the end. I know everything ended the way it did on purpose for the sake of the children in their family but I really thought that there should have been some kind of punishment served in this scenario. Other than that and the lengthy amount of time that Max suffers from self-doubt, I ended up liking the story a lot and I liked most of the characters. It had a sweet ending and I was happy that Max ended up happy and fulfilled in the end!

The bottom line: I liked this book ok. There was a lot going on and it was a pretty quick read so it was easy to stay interested.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #60 – The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Title: The Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Date finished: 6/20/15
Genre: Young Adult – Dystopian/Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Pages in book: 383
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Red Queen series (#2 is The Glass Sword and will be released 2/9/16!!!!!)
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book with a color in the title” check box since (duh) the title has a color in it. Obviously I’ve heard a lot about this book in the past couple months. This book rocketed up the popularity scale even before it was released, and there are even talks  right now to make it into a movie (Elizabeth Banks is rumored to be looking into producing the movie). With all of the recent dystopian young adult novels, I can understand why this book really caught on. This book tells the story of Mare Barrow, a Red who is sick to death of the Silver’s power. As a slight background, the Reds are the workers, the servants, the slaves and what not. The Silvers are the royalty and the important people, and their blood is actually Silvers. Oh and Silvers have powers. Like telekinesis and making plants grow and water nymphs and stuff like that.
So it turns out that Mare has powers as well. Even though she’s a Red, she can control electricity and can create it too. When the king finds out about this, he convinces Mare to portray to the population that she is a long lost Silver princess who was raised in a Red household. There is a rebellion rising up in the streets though, the Scarlet Guard, and they have a plot to over take the government. The population of Reds of tired of spending their whole lives working so hard to never get ahead and to watch their children and their children’s children toil away their lives in the same manner.
Overall I thought this book was very good. There was enough action to keep you consistently interested and there were enough plot twists to keep you on your toes. The main character (Mare) reminds me a lot of Katniss from Hunger Games. Mare is a very strong character and sometimes overly headstrong and a little tom-boy-ish. It was a solid book but it wasn’t my favorite book ever. Good story line though, I was interested throughout and honestly I didn’t want to put it down.
The bottom line: This was a very good book and I can see why it has gained a lot of popularity since it was released. I would definitely recommend that people give this book a try. It might not be for everyone but I thought it was great.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page