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Another Piece of My Heart
Another Piece of My Heart
by Jane Green
Edition: Hardcover
233 used & new from $0.01

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific read!, March 10, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I love Jane Green. Her books are such easy reads but still maintain complexity. Complexity is exactly what this novel delivers. The main character, Andi, is caught in a rough situation. Her husband, Ethan, has two daughters from his previous marriage. Andi embraces both girls. She longs to be a mother. She embraces the two girls even more when it turns out that Andi is unable to become pregnant herself. In addition to her fertility issues, Andi has another problem: her step-daughter Emily. No matter how she tries to show Emily that she loves her, there is no getting through to Emily. Emily chooses to see Andi as the enemy and actively tries to destroy Andi and Ethan's marriage.

As if that weren't enough, at the age of 17, Emily turns up pregnant. Seven months pregnant before anyone, including Emily, knows that she is pregnant. Andi's struggle with Emily only increases. She cannot make Emily see how she cares while at the same time she is horribly envious of Emily being pregnant. And then there's Ethan. Ethan refuses to take a stand against Emily and the havoc she is causing in his marriage. How can they navigate the complex relationship challenges without destroying each other?

I really couldn't put this book down. I expected to finish it much quicker than I actually did, but life got in the way of my reading. Green crafted such great characters. Andi is so sympathetic as the wife who is struggling with so many issues. Emily is sympathetic, too. I kind of wanted to hate her for all the trouble she was causing, but I just couldn't. When parts of the narrative are delivered by Emily and you get inside her head and emotions, it becomes nearly impossible to hate her. Ethan was very frustrating as a character. I just wanted him to take action already. Do something! But don't let these problems destroy you!

The plot could easily have been a tired cliche, but it wasn't. There were many surprises hidden along the way, the biggest being Emily's pregnancy. Green used the great characters she had created to keep the tension and drama high, while still surprising you.

I really enjoyed this novel. I highly recommend it. I also recommend any of Green's other works. I have not read a bad one yet!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2012 11:55 AM PDT


Loss (Riders of the Apocalypse)
Loss (Riders of the Apocalypse)
by Jackie Kessler
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.03
95 used & new from $0.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing...Very Disappointing, February 29, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was so enchanted by the premise of this series and by the first book in this series. Teenagers with huge problems become riders of the apocalypse. It just sounds like it would be amazing. And the first book, Hunger, was. I was blown away. But the second and third books, Rage and Loss, were such disappointments.

The first problem I had with this book was that I didn't see the relationship between being a bully and becoming Pestilence. In Hunger, there was a definite correlation between the main character and the Rider that she became. That concept was shaky in Rage and totally fell apart in Loss. It seemed to me that the victim of brutal bullying would have been better suited to the Rage storyline than this one. I was extremely off-put by this aspect of the novel.

Billy was just an OK character. I didn't really connect with him. I think it would have been very easy to connect with him if this character had been better developed. I personally feel that it is very hard to make it through adolescence without enduring some kind of bullying. I was definitely bullied as a teen, so I expected to connect with Billy and I just couldn't. Since Billy is the main character, this was very problematic.

I found all of the detail and flashbacks to the life of The Conqueror to be boring. It felt like it was just filler information. The story would have been the same without all the extraneous information.

The plot was dull and formulaic. It's the third book in the series and I do expect the stories to follow the same sort of rhythm, but I also expect individuality and originality. Loss lacked both of those things.

There's only one book left in this series and I will probably read it, since I have already read the first three. I cannot say I would recommend this book or the series as a whole. I would definitely recommend the first book in the series, Hunger.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 10, 2012 5:39 AM PDT


How to Eat a Cupcake: A Novel
How to Eat a Cupcake: A Novel
by Meg Donohue
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.79
124 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid Debut Novel, February 20, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am guilty of somewhat judging a book by its cover. When I saw the cover of this book, I was smitten. It is so adorable, with all the fancy cupcakes in the shop window. I just loved it. Lucky for me, it turned out to be a pretty good read, too.

I loved the plot. Old friends who had a traumatic split in their relationship are drawn back together and create a cupcakery. I especially loved the name of the cupcakery - Treat. I loved how the very long shared past of Anna and Julia wove together and heavily influenced their present in so many ways. I thought this was a definite high point for the book.

For the characters, I was very taken with Anna. I found her to be likeable, fresh, she was a tiny bit edgy in her own way. I simply loved her. I had problems with Julia, Julia's fiancee, and Lolly, Julia's mother. Part of my problem with Julia was that I just did not like her. I found that I was not able to embrace her as a character. She felt distant and removed. I think some of this was by the author's design. Julia is a somewhat stand-offish person. However, I needed to be able to connect with her and I just could not. Each chapter alternated in narrative voice. Some chapter were narrated by Anna and some by Julia. I found myself grimacing when I would hit the Julia chapters because I did dislike her so.

My other problem with Julia overlaps with my problems with Lolly and Julia's fiancee (his name is escaping me). My problem with these three characters was that I found them to be riddled with cliches. Julia is very much the stereotypical spoiled rich girl. She never really broke that mold for me and that was disappointing. Likewise, Lolly was the overbearing rich mother who often means well but just fails miserably. And then there was the fiancee. While I liked him to a certain extend, I was bother by the same sense of him being a giant cliche. The fiancee is from the South and speaks with a southern drawl. That's fine. I love a good drawl. What I did not enjoy was that his speech was full of every single southern cliched expression. His overall character was forced into the "Southern Gentleman" role and nothing distinguished him as unique.

Despite these few problems, I did enjoy the book. It is a solid debut by Donohue. I will definitely check out future books by her.


The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R.
The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R.
by Carole DeSanti
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.83
132 used & new from $0.01

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So long, so dense, so not for me, February 20, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book sounded like it would be right up my alley when I read the product description. I love historical fiction and this seemed like a book I would really enjoy. I was wrong. I found the author's prose to be quite beautiful, but the story got very bogged down in an endless amount of very dense descriptions. I love attention to detail in a book, but when I read 3 pages of text describing a single room, something is not right. Because there was so much description, I would love the plot threads. They would just get lost and then I would have to back track to pick them back up again.

The characters were just OK. I didn't love or hate them.

I definitely wouldn't recommend this book. There are better novels out there to read.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 23, 2012 2:26 PM PST


Illuminate: A Gilded Wings Novel, Book One
Illuminate: A Gilded Wings Novel, Book One
by Aimee Agresti
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.86
134 used & new from $0.01

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Good, February 20, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book was definitely not for me. I had problems from page 1. I found the characters to be unlikeable and flat, or overblown cliches. Haven's best friend is the best example of a character that was 100% a cliche. I found the romance angle to be off-putting. The plot as a whole was largely boring and convoluted. I am also not certain why this book is as long as it is. One hundred pages of excess description and circular conversations could have been eliminated from the book and the story would remain the same.

I can definitely see the appeal that this book will have for some, but it just was not for me.


A Perfect Blood (The Hollows, Book 10)
A Perfect Blood (The Hollows, Book 10)
by Kim Harrison
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.98
186 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Excellent, Excellent!, February 20, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
***This review was originally posted on ReadingWithMartinis.com***

When approach the tenth novel in a series, one hopes that the author can still find ways to keep the series fresh and engaging. I imagine that this is not something that is easy to do, especially when I read other late installments in log running series and wonder when I finish, well what was the point of that? Kim Harrison and her The Hollows series does not have that problem.

I started reading this series when the very first book in the series, Dead Witch Walking, was released. The series is set in an alternate reality version of Cincinnati, OH, which is where I live. I was intrigued by the paranormal tale, but also by the fact that the series was set in the place that I call home. My interest in this series quickly moved beyond the fact that it is set in my home town. I became engrossed in the characters and plot lines that Harrison created. It wasn't very many books into the series before I was rating The Hollows as one of my absolute favorite Urban Fantasy series.

A Perfect Blood is an excellent example of why this series continues to be a favorite. The plot was extremely interesting and fast-paced. Rachel Morgan is drawn into the investigation of people who are being murdered in a ritualistic fashion, and their corpses are being left all over the city. The plot elements were complex. Who was behind the murders? Why were those specific victims selected/ And how can Rachel Morgan help investigate these horrific crimes when her hands have been magically tied by the events of the previous book? I truly couldn't put this book down.

The characters add the special to these books. With plot lines that are often heavy, the characters provide a human (and non-human) touch, which makes for fun, relateable, and often hilarious situations. I had a difficult time in the beginning warming up to some of the characters, particularly Rachel's very complicated best friend and roommate Ivy. My difficulties were by the author's design, though. Ivy is hard to know. She is guarded and mysterious. Rachel has a hard time knowing Ivy. Now, though, Ivy is one of my favorite characters. All of the characters in this novel were well-crafted and excellently portrayed.

If you have not read any books in this series, I highly recommend you get a copy of the first book and get started! I love this series and I highly recommend it!


Shatter Me
Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.55
89 used & new from $2.77

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Start and Then It All Fell Apart, January 12, 2012
This review is from: Shatter Me (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
***This review was originally posted on ReadingWithMartinis.com***

I had originally intended to read Shatter Me for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge. However, I met the challenge requirement before I could get to Shatter Me, so I pushed back reading it when my ARC arrived from Amazon Vine.

I was very intrigued by the description of this book. The synopsis for the novel is very interesting. A girl who can kill with her touch? Sounds fantastic! Plus, it's dystopian!? Let me at it! Unfortunately, I ultimately ended up being very disappointed with this book.

The first half of the novel was very good. The set up for the story was terrific. Juliette explains her present situation, she's been imprisoned by The Reestablishment, and her past through minor flashes of recollections. The despair that surrounds Juliette and what seems like a hopeless situation. Events begin to unfold, more back story is revealed, and the big set up for The Reestablishment to use Juliette as a weapon takes place. Everything is going along swimmingly.

The second half of the novel shifted focus and really concentrated on the romance aspect of the novel. The original plot - Juliette is trying to be used as a weapon by The Reestablishment - totally took a back seat to the romance between Juliette and Adam. And it took a back seat to the point that it almost seemed like Mafi forgot about the plot for awhile and then quickly threw a few pieces of action together to make it seem balanced, which it was not.

Mafi definitely has a way with words and I really enjoyed her descriptions and writing, in general. But the novel became very jumbled in the middle and completely disappointed me. I honestly don't know if I will be reading the sequel to this book. I also cannot honestly say that I would recommend this book. There are so many better novels out there, that I wouldn't want someone to waste their time with this one.

If you feel you must read it, get this book from the library.


The Flight of Gemma Hardy: A Novel
The Flight of Gemma Hardy: A Novel
by Margot Livesey
Edition: Hardcover
187 used & new from $0.01

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, January 8, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
***This review was originally posted on ReadingWithMartinis.com***

I have been enjoying the string of classic novel reboots that I have read lately. When I read the description of this book and was offered an ARC through Amazon's Vine program, I immediately snatched it up. Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorite novels. I've read it so many times that I've lost count. A reboot novel sounded like so much fun to read. Unfortunately, it wasn't.

The first half of this book was fairly good. I enjoyed the set up of the novel and could definitely see the Jane Eyre plot just beneath the surface. I was very into the story. I liked how Livesey was making a classic her own while incorporating familiar elements.

When I crossed into the second half of the novel, things took a turn for the worse. The story became really convoluted. The thing that splits Jane and Rochester in Jane Eyre (that he is already married), is changed into something that is really quite silly to cause their break up. I was completely confused by this turn of events, which takes Gemma on this very strange and lengthy side journey, that again, I was just confused by. It was like at the halfway point, I started reading a completely different novel and no one told me.

The ending was pretty anticlimactic and by the end I was really just glad to be finished.

Livesey is a talented writer. Her prose was beautiful and I enjoyed her writing. The novel needed better/more direction. It could also have used some tangent reduction. One hundred pages could have easily been shaved off this book.

I wouldn't recommend this book. I will check out a different work by Livesey because I did enjoy her writing. If you really want to read this book, definitely get it from the library.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 14, 2012 3:51 AM PDT


Everneath
Everneath
by Brodi Ashton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.04
104 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing New YA Series With A Mythological Twist!, January 4, 2012
This review is from: Everneath (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This review was originally published at ReadingWithMartinis.com

I am afraid of the hype monster. It scares me. It usually means that a book everyone is gushing over will be much hated by me, OR I will wait an embarrassing length of time to read the book and will look like a moron when I love it. However, despite the fact that the hype monster has eaten this book whole, I decided to request a copy when Everneath was available in my Amazon Vine list. It turns out that, for once, the hype monster was probably deserved.

I loved Everneath. It was soooooooooo good! What did I love? Let's break it down.

The characters: I could eat these characters up with a spoon, that's how much I loved these characters. Nikki was fantastic. After being inundated with Bella Swan and her character clones for a few years, I am way tired of simpering, self-loathing, someone-rescue-me female protagonists. I like a girl who can handle her situation and self. Nikki is definitely that person. Nikki created the situation she is in with Cole and Everneath. Yes, Cole played a part, but the blame is largely Nikki's and she owns that fact. She doesn't try to blame anyone else of wiggle her way out of her obligation.

Does that mean she has abandoned all hope of finding a way around the ticking clock that will mean her return to Everneath? Absolutely not! Nikki is full of hope. Maybe not when she first Returns to her old life, but as she evolves she definitely hopes she can figure out, on her own, how she can beat Cole at his own game. She never gives up this hope and she never expects anyone else to save her. I puffy heart with Care Bears love that about her!

Jack was not the usual guy character. He was kind of doing a little pining for Nikki, but not in a losery way. But he also had tremendous strength and depth of character. He knew what he wanted but was willing to wait for Nikki to set the tone. And he definitely wasn't giving up on Nikki, no matter what. Kuddos to Jack!

Cole is a great villain because he doesn't really come off as a bad guy. You know exactly what he does to Nikki and other people. You know what Cole's ultimate goal is. But hating him is hard because there is something very genuine about Cole. He believes the story he is selling and that makes the reader want to believe him, in some respects. It is only Nikki, and her very strong voice of reason, that pulls you back from the brink.

The plot: This plot was over the top amazing! I love stories that have a mythological connection and Everneath is full of mythology! It makes the story that much more compelling! The plot is well-constructed with NO, and I mean zero, holes. Ashton did an amazing job mapping out her world, the rules that govern it, and make sure that all elements were 100% in sync. The plot moved super fast. Someone was always happening to keep me turning the pages. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next!

And the ending. OH, THE ENDING. Shatter me into little tiny pieces, Ms. Ashton. It's OK. I enjoy it (no, really, I do.). It was beautiful. It was heartbreaking. It was perfect.

I absolutely cannot wait for the sequel to this novel (no publication information is available at this time)! I 100% recommend this novel! Check it out, I do not think you will be disappointed.


Girls in White Dresses
Girls in White Dresses
by Jennifer Close
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.08
118 used & new from $0.54

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable!, December 17, 2011
This review is from: Girls in White Dresses (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I received several recommendations to read this book. I heard many great things about it, so I decided to give it a whirl, courtesy of Amazon Vine. I really enjoyed this book. Close's writing style is top notch. She is a gifted writer.

I loved how this novel was structured. Instead of being a fluid story about a group of friends, Close told her tale in a series of short stories or vignettes. The characters overlap and events from one vignette are revisited throughout the telling of different stories. I really loved this construct. The story was still very fluid and enjoyable, but instead of one giant narrative, the story was portioned and served in bite sizes. I really loved that Close told the story this way.

I enjoyed all of the characters and their trials and triumphs. I found the characters to be well-rounded and easy to relate to. The characters and their adventures were also very funny, which made the novel all that much more enjoyable.

I definitely enjoyed this book and would absolutely recommend it!


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