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Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade) - Jennifer Estep

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I am so glad that I finally read this book! I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of this book near its release date but it fell through the cracks somehow. As more time passed, I realized that I would need to refresh my memory of the first two books in the trilogy before I could review the book properly so I put off reading it. I decided to push this book to the top of my list recently and it was a very good decision. I thoroughly enjoyed my re-read of the first two books in the trilogy and was eager to experience this book for the first time. I really had a good time with this one.

This is a trilogy that really needs to be read in order. Things have been building to the events in this book for the entire trilogy and I was excited to see how things would work out. Victor Draconi has been working towards a plan to eliminate the other Families and take control of everything himself. Lila and the other Sinclairs are aware of his plan and they are working to do whatever they can to stop him.

This story was exciting and there were a few scenes that were incredibly action-packed. There were a few scenes where I was really worried about how things would work out for this group of characters that I have grown to care for and some scenes that broke my heart. I loved the way that the monsters and magical abilities were such a vital part of the story. It was great to see Lila really become a trusted member of the Sinclair Family as they came together with the other Families to fight a common threat.

Brittany Pressley did a fantastic job with the narration once again. I looked forward to putting my headphones on and escaping into Lila's world for a few hours. I really felt like she brought this story to life. She did a fantastic job with all of the character voices and brought a lot of emotion into her reading. I believe that her narration added to my enjoyment of this story.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a wonderful trilogy set in a very interesting world. I had a great time going on this adventure with Lila, Devon, Felix, Oscar, and the rest of the characters. I cannot wait to read more of Jennifer Estep's work.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Kensington Books via NetGalley and purchased a copy of the audiobook.

Initial Thoughts
I am so glad that I finally read this book! This was a battle that has been brewing for the entire series and I was excited to see the Sinclairs take on the Draconis. There was a lot of excitement and action in this book and some pretty intense scenes. I thought that the characters were at their best in this installment and there were some pretty emotional scenes. I listened to the audiobook and I thought that the narrator did a fabulous job bringing this story to life.

The Prisoner's Wife by Maggie Brookes

The Prisoner's Wife - Maggie Brooks

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this book was really well done. I enjoy historical fiction every once in a while and stories set during World War II really appeal to me. I am always on the lookout for something a little different and the premise of this story grabbed me right away. I love the fact that this book is based on a true story and was eager to see how a woman was able to hide within a PoW camp. Once I picked up this book, I was hooked right away and didn't want to put the book down. I am so glad that I decided to give this book a try.

At the start of this story, Izzy is a farm girl in Czechoslovakia and Bill is a prisoner at a work camp that has been assigned to assist at her family farm. They are drawn to each other from the very beginning and fall in love in moments when they are able to steal a bit of time together away from everyone else. They marry and escape only to be captured a short time later. This is when things start getting very dangerous for both Izzy and Bill.

I felt for Izzy and Bill from the start. They both just wanted to be together but a war that they could not control had the potential to take everything from them. I tried to imagine what it must have been like for Izzy to live in fear of being discovered and how difficult it must have been to hide her gender in the living conditions within the camp. Bill was in constant fear for Izzy and was willing to do whatever it took to protect her.

This was a really powerful story. The descriptions in this book were very well done and I was able to form a mental image of what the conditions in the camp were Bill, Izzy, and the others that were in on their secret. Everything from their constant state of hunger to the physical pain was vividly described. I felt like I was there with them as they fought to take another step and leaned on each other for support.

I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction. I thought that this was a very well done and powerful story. I will admit that I would have loved to see a little bit about what happened to each of the characters after the story ended but I realize that most of the people being released from these camps would never know the fate of those they had come in contact with during their incarceration. I would not hesitate to read more of this author's work in the future.

I received an advanced review copy of this book from Penguin Publishing Group - Berkley.

Undone by Shannon Richard

Undone - Shannon Richard
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I just loved this book! I have had this book for years but failed to take the time to read it until now and I must that I am a little mad at myself for not picking it up sooner. Once I started reading this story, I was hooked and did not want to put it down and found myself reaching for it every chance I had. I am so glad that I finally decided to give this one a try.

Things have not been going great for Paige. She has lost her job, her apartment, and her boyfriend in short order. As a result, she was forced to move back in with her parents who now live in the small town of Mirabelle, Florida. It has not been an easy transition and she feels like most of the town is against her. Her vehicle breaks down after a horrible interview and the town's handsome mechanic comes to her rescue.

Brendan has lived in Mirabelle all of his life and knows how hard some of the residents can be on new residents like Paige. He hasn't had things easy in his life but he has a great support system including his grandparents, his sister, and a great group of friends. He decides to help Paige out just a bit and he also plans to spend a little more time getting to know her.

I really liked Paige and Brendan. I thought that both of these characters felt very real, like someone I wouldn't be surprised to meet. They were fun together and I loved the chemistry between the pair. This was a pretty low drama story for much of the book and I really enjoyed just spending time with these two as they fell in love. There is some excitement before the book is over but I must say that I liked the parts of the book that just focused on these two getting to know each other. Paige and Brendan were not perfect and they made some mistakes but I think that helped them to feel more authentic. The secondary characters were very well developed and I appreciated what they brought to the story.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. I thought that this was a really well-done romance filled with wonderful characters and a lot of sparks. I would not hesitate to read more of this author's work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Forever (Grand Central Publishing) via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I just loved this book and I am kind of mad at myself for not reading it sooner. Paige and Brendan were fantastic characters and they were so good together. The bulk of the story is rather drama free and I really enjoyed stepping back and watching Paige and Brendan fall for each other. Some drama does show up before the story draws to a close but I had a pretty good feeling that these two would find their happily ever after at that point.

 

Sweet Revenge by Rebecca Zanetti

Sweet Revenge - Rebecca Zanetti

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was really good! I have had a copy of this book to read for years but failed to actually start reading it until now. After reading the first book in the series recently, I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. I do feel like this series is best when read in order since some of the events from the first book come into play in this installment. Once I started reading this one, I hard a hard time putting it down and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Matt and Laney are the focus of this book. Matt is the oldest of his brothers and always tries to take care of everything. He needs to find the doctor that has the ability to save him and his brothers and he has it narrowed down to the small town of Charmed, Idaho. He gets a job working at the local bar owned by Laney and the pair have an instant connection. Before long, things in town get a lot more complicated than they ever imagined.

Matt and Laney were both great characters and I thought that they were great together. I thought that the chemistry between them was amazing. They did have a few communication issues at the start of the story but they eventually learned to work together very well. They were both incredibly capable people that were protective of the people that they cared about. It was really easy to cheer this pair on.

This story was really exciting. Matt's mission to find the doctor that could save them was interesting enough but there was some additional crime occurring in the small town that really added to the excitement. There were some revelations in the story that completely surprised me and a ton of action worked into the story. It was really easy to be hooked by this story.

Karen White continues to do an amazing job with the narration of this series. I really like the quality of her voice and thought that she did a wonderful job with all of the character voices. I thought that she was able to bring a lot of emotion to the story. I had such a good time listening to this story and believe that her narration added to my enjoyment.

I would recommend this book to others. I put off reading this series for a number of years and am so glad that I finally have made it a priority. This book was filled with wonderful characters, intense action, and some incredibly romantic moments. I cannot wait to start reading the next book in the series.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Forever (Grand Central Publishing) via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.

Initial Thoughts
This was really good! I liked Matt and Laney were both great characters and they were really good together. The story had a lot of excitement and there were a few twists that I didn't see coming. I was able to guess a few things but for the most part, this story kept me guessing. I listened to the audiobook and thought that the narrator did a fantastic job with the reading of the story.

Pretenders by Lisi Harrison

Pretenders - Lisi Harrison

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

one didn't work for me at all. I hate writing less than favorable reviews. If I am not enjoying a book, I will usually not finish the book and don't spend any time writing a review for it. This was one of those books that kept me reading and things were heading towards a generous 3-star rating before I got to the last parts of this book.

This book is told through journal entries from a group of high school students. It took me a while to really remember what was going on in each of the kid's lives. The two male students were a little more distinctive but the three female students tended to blend a bit in my head. I did eventually get a better feel for each of the characters and it helped that their lives started to become more connected as the book progressed.

My biggest problem with this book is the ending. I should really say the lack of an ending. I have read books that end in cliffhangers and while it is not my favorite, I have learned to deal with it. This was worse than a normal cliffhanger. This felt like someone ripped a book in half and only gave you part of it. There was no resolution whatsoever when this book came to an abrupt stop. Instead of making me want to rush out and grab the next book in this series, I am completely turned off from this series.

I am not recommending this book to others. I liked the concept of following this group of students through their journal entries but considering the fact that there is no resolution when the book comes to an abrupt stop, I found it to be a very unsatisfying read.

I received a digital review copy of this book from the Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - Poppy via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
Why did I even read this? This was not good. I thought about giving up at one point but decided to push on. I should have stopped while I was ahead. It took me a while to really get a feel for each of the kids and I wouldn't say that I really liked any of them. I probably would have rated the book 3 stars if it wasn't for that ending. Or I should say the lack of an ending. The book just stopped without resolving anything. This was worse than a cliffhanger because we finally got just a little bit of action and then there was no more book. I won't bother reading the next book in the series.

Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen

Sure Shot - Sarina Bowen

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I just loved this book! I first read Sarina Bowen's work a little more than two years ago when I picked up Bountiful and I haven't looked back. I haven't quite read all of her work yet but I am working on it and I do get excited every time a new book hits the shelves. I still have a soft spot for Dave and Zara, the couple from Bountiful, though so this book was a big winner for me since it features Dave's sister, Bess. I loved getting to know Bess and Tank and I really enjoyed getting to check in on Dave and Zara. Once I picked up this book, I didn't want to put it down and ended up reading it cover to cover in less than a day.

Bess Beringer is turning 30 and is ready to make some changes in her life. She is a sports agent and has been very career-focused up to this point but now she is ready to work on her personal life. Mark Tankiewicz, or Tank, has been playing hockey for a long time but now everything seems to be falling apart. His wife has asked for a divorce and he has been traded to a new team. Nobody knows it but Bess and Mark had a short fling when they were both starting their careers nine years ago and now they find themselves single and living in the same city.

I loved Bess, Tank, and the entire collected cast of this story. Bess and Tank were both great characters and the chemistry that they shared was off the charts. I really liked the way that they were willing to take a chance with each other. All of the obstacles to their relationship made sense and I liked the way that they worked together to work past them. This book can easily be read as a stand-alone but readers of the series will enjoy seeing many of the characters from previous books stepping in to play a role in this one.

I would recommend this book to others. If you enjoy sports romance and you haven't read Sarina Bowen yet, what are you waiting for? This story put a big old smile on my face and I couldn't help but cheer these characters towards their happily ever after. I really appreciated the fact that we get to see how things work out for this pair in the epilogue that jumped forward a bit. I cannot wait to read more of Sarina Bowen's work.

I received a digital review copy of this book from the author/publicist.

Initial Thoughts
I am somewhere between 4 and 5 stars on this one but I am going to go with 5 for right now since I am leaning that way. I loved Bess and Tank. The first Sarina Bowen book that I was was Bountiful so I have a soft spot for Dave and Zara so I was thrilled to get to see so much of them in this book. Bess and Tank were perfect for each other and their chemistry was off the charts. It was really a lot of fun to watch their relationship develop throughout this book and I was happy that we got a chance to see how things work out for them.

House on Fire by Joseph Finder

House on Fire - Joseph Finder

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this book. I decided to read this book because it sounded like it would be an exciting mystery thriller. I hadn't read anything written by Joseph Finder before picking up this book but I didn't let that deter me since I am always looking for new authors to try. This is the fourth book in the Nick Heller series but I read it as a stand-alone and it worked well. I thought that the book got off to a very good start and told a very entertaining and exciting story. I am so glad that I took a chance and decided to read this book.

Nick Heller is a private investigator and he once served in the military. When Nick learns of the death of a good friend who once saved his life while in action, he goes to help the family right away. At the funeral, he meets a woman with ties to the company that produces the highly addictive drug which his friend was addicted to and this woman enlists Nick's help in proving that the company knew just how dangerous these drugs really are. Nick is not only dealing with this new client but is also juggling the needs of his nephew and providing support to the family of the friend he lost. I found the mystery to be really well done and quite complex. There were a lot of twists and turns that kept me guessing throughout the book and I couldn't figure out how things would work out until it was revealed in the story. I liked that there was not only a lot of action to keep things interesting but also a lot of more thoughtful investigative work that went into solving this case.

I liked Nick a lot from the start. We learn early on that he is a man that has a strong moral code. He works hard to do a good job and to always do the right thing even when it might cost him money in the end. We get a few glimpses into his past and learn that he is a man that learns from his mistakes and tries to do better in the future. I loved the way that he was able to slip into almost any situation and handle himself in such a way that he was rarely questioned. He was almost always able to see things that others might miss and stayed focused on solving the mystery.

I would recommend this book to fans of mystery thrillers. I thought that this was a really well done and exciting story that kept me guessing until the end. I really enjoyed watching Nick in action and look forward to reading more of this series in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Penguin Group Dutton via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book. This is the fourth book in the Nick Heller series but I read it as a stand-alone and it worked perfectly fine. I really liked Nick from the start and loved the story was full of action. There are several situations that Nick is dealing with during the book which I liked. The main mystery was really complex and it kept me guessing until the very end. I would definitely like to read more of this exciting series!

Forgotten Sins by Rebecca Zanetti

Forgotten Sins - Rebecca Zanetti

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I enjoyed this book. I have had a copy of this book for a long time but for one reason or another I never picked it up. I have been such a mood reader lately and when I saw this book while browsing the audiobooks on my library's website, this felt like the perfect time to get started with this series. I found this to be a very easy story to slip into and I found myself hooked right away. I am so glad that I finally decided to give this book a try.

The book opens with Josie arriving at the hospital, after being called about her husband, Shane. This is a husband that she hasn't seen for two years and a husband that has lost his memory and doesn't know what is going on. I couldn't wait to find out what caused Shane to leave her two years ago and what was really going on now that put him in the situation to lose his memory.

I liked Shane and Josie a lot and I really wanted to see them work things out and stay together this time around. Shane had lost his memories but the chemistry between the pair was still present from the very start. He also kept his instincts and seemed to surprise himself with some of the things that he knew and was able to do. Josie still had feelings for Shane but she was guarded and tried to remain practical. She wasn't helpless and didn't hesitate to stand up for herself.

The story was pretty exciting. There was a lot of action and quite a few scenes where the characters were in some danger. I did enjoy learning more about Shane and his brothers and watching them work together to get things done. Josie, Shane, Matt, and Nate all really stepped up when they needed to and I even enjoyed the role that the local detective played in the story. I thought that the story's romance and action were really well balanced.

Karen White did a fabulous job with the narration of this story. I believe that this was my first experience with this narrator but I will definitely be looking for more of her work in the future. I thought that she did a great job with all of the character voices and she added a lot of excitement and emotion into her reading. I believe that her narration added to my overall enjoyment of this story.

I would recommend this book to fans of romantic suspense. I really enjoyed the story from beginning to end and thought that the characters were very well done. I cannot wait to read more of this exciting series very soon.

Initial Thoughts
I enjoyed this one. I have had this book for a very long time and I am glad that I finally decided to give it a try. I liked the characters a lot and I thought that their history was very interesting. I am looking forward to continuing with the series.

Book source: Purchased a copy of the ebook and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.

The Other People by C.J. Tudor

The Other People - C.J. Tudor

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had such a great time with this book! After loving this author's previous work, I was pretty excited to give this book a try. When I started reading this book, I hoped that this would be a story that would really capture my attention and it was. I was completely swept away by this story and found myself trying to figure out what was really happening to these characters even when I wasn't reading the book. I enjoyed this page-turner of a story from the first page until the last.

On his way home one night, Gabe sees a car covered in bumper stickers weaving in and out of traffic in front of him. It wouldn't have been that big of a deal if he hadn't seen the face of a little girl sitting in the backseat of the car. He knew that face because it belonged to his daughter. Years later, he cannot let it go and spends his time driving up and down the same roads looking for either the car or his little girl.

This is one of those stories where it is better to go in knowing little about the story and letting things unfold as you work your way through the book. There are tons of twists and turns during this story and sometimes a new detail would have me questioning everything I had previously thought. We see this story from several different points of view that become more connected as the book progressed. There were times that I had no idea where the story was going but I wanted so much to see Gabe find his Izzy that I couldn't put the book down.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a wonderfully crafted and quite complex story filled with interesting characters. This book kept me guessing until the very end and I liked the fact that there was just a bit of supernatural worked in as well. I cannot wait to read more from this very talented author!

I received a review copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Books.

Initial Thoughts
So, this was pretty much fantastic. I loved The Chalk Man when I read it a couple of years ago but I wasn't nearly as big of a fan of The Hiding Place. I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book but I decided it was time to finally give it a try and I didn't want to put it down. I felt for Gabe and was totally taken by the mystery. This was definitely a page-turner.

Sisters in Love by Melissa Foster

Sisters in Love - Melissa Foster

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this book. I haven't read a lot of Melissa Foster's books yet but I have enjoyed the ones that I have read so I was pretty excited to give this one a try. I found it really easy to slip into this story and really enjoyed getting to watch Danica and Blake get to know each other. I found this book to be a very easy listen.

Danica is a therapist and she has always been the responsible one. She is really conservative with just about everything in her life from what she wears to how she behaves. Blake owns a ski shop with his best friend. He is also known as a player. He has no trouble finding women to keep him company and he seems to have company quite often. When tragedy strikes and his world is turned upside down, Blake finds that he wants more out of life.

I really liked the characters in this book. Danica and Blake were both great and I loved the fact that they grew a lot over the course of the story. I really felt like I was on a journey with both of them and they were very different people at the end of the book than they were at the beginning. I thought that they had wonderful chemistry with each other and I thought that they made a great pair. I thought that the secondary characters were equally well done and I am really excited to read their stories in future installments in the series.

I thought that B.J. Harrison did a fantastic job with the narration. This was the first time that I have had the opportunity to listen to this narrator and I found him very easy to listen to. I thought that he did a great job with all of the character voices and I thought that he was able to add a lot of emotion into his reading. I think that his narration added to my overall enjoyment of the story.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. I thought that this was a wonderfully emotional romance that was filled with wonderful characters. I look forward to reading more of Melissa Foster's work soon.

I received a copy of this audiobook from the author/publicist.

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim - Richard Kadrey

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I feel like I have been wanting to read this book forever. I bought the ebook more than eight years ago and added the audiobook to my collection nearly six years ago. I am not really sure why it took me so long to finally get started with the series but I am happy to report that this book is really as good as I had hoped it would be. I am so glad that I finally took the time to give this one a listen.

James Stark was only 19 years old when he went to Hell. It is now 11 years later and he is back and ready to deal with the friends who sent him away. The past 11 years have been hard on Stark but he survived and picked up a few skills along the way. Things have changed in the world while he was away and he has a few adjustments to make as he works to settle the score.

I really liked Stark. He is tough and able to think on his feet. We learn pretty early on that he can be rather brutal when necessary but he will also go out of his way to help others who are truly innocent. We really learn a lot about Stark in this book and I think that his past and time in Hell have helped to shape him. Stark does have a sense of humor and there were times that I found myself chuckling. I also really enjoyed the supporting cast of characters and I think that the whole ensemble really helped to make the story entertaining.

This story is really exciting. It is really interesting right out of the gate and everything builds as the story progresses. I like that there is no big information dump as you sometimes find in the first installment in a series. Instead, the world-building happens slowly as the story is told. There is plenty of action to keep things moving and a few scenes where we really get to see how much Stark has lost. I think that the pacing of the story was very well done and I liked that I was always eager to get back to the story.

MacLeod Andrews did a phenomenal job with the narration of this book. He really brought James Stark to life and I couldn't imagine this character having a different voice. He handled all of the character voices extremely well and added a lot of excitement to the story. I know that I enjoyed this story a bit more because of his narration.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book to others. This is a very strong start to a series that I can't wait to continue. The characters were very well done and I found myself completely engaged in the story from beginning to end. I cannot wait to read more of this series!

Initial Thoughts
I ended up really enjoying this one. The narrator of the audiobook does an amazing job with this story and the story itself is really exciting. Stark is a great character. The more that we learned about him, the more I found that I liked him. There is a lot going on in this story and I found that I had to start the audiobook over at the midpoint since I was pretty sure I missed some key points. It was worth putting in that extra time. I like that there was a bit of humor that was worked into this story along with some pretty intense action. I cannot wait to read more of Stark and the rest of the gang.

Book source: purchase

Scent of Darkness by Christina Dodd

Scent of Darkness - Christina Dodd

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. This was a re-read for me. I first read this book around the time of its original release, which was 2007, and didn't remember a whole lot about it besides the fact that the Hero is able to turn into a wolf and I liked it. As I read the book, there were some things that were somewhat familiar but in a lot of ways, it was like experiencing the story all over again for the first time. I am really glad that I decided to pick this one up again.

I love the set up for this series. The Wilder family is descended from a man that made a deal with the devil years ago. Since that deal was made, only male children have been born and each of those children is able to transform into a predator once they reach puberty. These are violent men who don't form attachments or marry but take what they want. Jasha's father broke tradition when he married his mother and hid his family from the larger family.

Jasha knows that his family is in danger from his mother's prophecy. Jasha is the oldest and is quite the businessman, owning a winery. He is the oldest of the four children in his family and he is able to turn into a wolf at will. Ann works for Jasha as his assistant but has wanted him for a very long time. She doesn't realize that when she goes to see him at his home that she is going to get more than she bargained for.

I found this book to be really exciting. I think that the fact that these characters are faced with a situation that is bigger than they are is really interesting. Their goal is really just to keep their family safe and despite the fact that their abilities come from a deal with the devil, they do want to do the right thing. I liked that the enemy could pop up anywhere and really that anything could happen.

I did like Jasha and Ann and thought that they did make a good pair. They did have a lot of chemistry and liked each other before the book actually began. I thought that Ann's history was really interesting and I liked the fact that she was able to accept everything going on as quickly as she did. Jasha really did care for Ann although he sometimes did need to learn to include her in the decisions that were being made.

I would recommend this book to fans of paranormal romance. I found this to be a fast-paced story with a rather unique premise. I am looking forward to continuing my re-read of the series very soon!

Initial Thoughts
This was a re-read for me. I think that I originally read this book sometime around its release in 2007. I didn't remember a whole lot about the story besides the fact that the Hero could turn into a wolf. I also remember really enjoying the book. I still enjoyed it but I think that I probably had more problems this time around. It was a quick read and I definitely plan to re-read the rest of the series.

Book source: Purchased

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul

Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel - Steven Levenson, Justin Paul, Benj Pasek, Val Emmich

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I didn't love this one like I had hoped I would. To be fair, I am not the target audience for this book. I have never seen the musical or heard any of its songs so I was pretty clueless going in. I can't tell you how this book compares to the musical but this story does stand on its own. Maybe a younger audience will enjoy this one more than I did but I spent a large part of the book wanted to pull these kids to the side and give them a mom talk. It was a pretty easy read and I am glad I gave it a try.

It all starts with a letter. Evan doesn't have really any friends and has a hard time getting through each day. As a part of therapy, he writes letters to himself to put things in a positive outlook. Connor picks up the letter and takes it from Evan. He dies with that letter in his pocket and suddenly everyone thinks that Connor and Evan were great friends and everything grows from there.

One of my biggest pet peeves is lying of any kind. Unfortunately, this book is packed with lies. Instead of letting Connor's parents know the truth behind the letter he lets them think that he was really friends with Connor. He then proceeds to expand on that lie and becomes a big part of Connor's family's life. He even starts dating Connor's sister who he has had a crush on for a very long time. Almost everything that Evan does in this book is a lie or is tied to a lie and I have to tell you that I had some issues with it. I just felt like Connor's family had enough to deal with without being manipulated by Evan.

There were some things that I did like in this book. I liked that the story is told from two different points of view. I expected Evan's point of view but the second one was a bit of a surprise. The point of view that I didn't expect was really my favorite part of the book. I thought that those sections of the book were very well done.

I listened to this book and I thought that the narrators did a good job with it. The female narrator listed did a couple of song segments worked into the story and the males handled the two points of view. I thought that they both did a great job representing their character. Their voices were very pleasant to listen to for long periods of time. I think that I liked the story a bit more because I decided to listen to the audiobook.

I think that a lot of readers are going to like this book a lot more than I did. The book does touch on a lot of important issues but I couldn't get past all of the deceptions.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via NetGalley and borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library via Overdrive.

Initial Thoughts
This was probably a 2.5 star read for me. To be fair, I am really not the target audience for this book but I thought I would take a chance on it. I have never really seen anything about the show or soundtrack but I hoped that the book would stand on its own. It fell a bit flat for me. This was always a book that I found easy to set aside and I really couldn't connect with any of the characters. Evan is lying to pretty much everyone for most of the book which kind of made me cringe. I listened to the audio and thought that they did a great job with their performance.

The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

The Hiding Place - C.J. Tudor

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I didn't like this one nearly as much as I had hoped I would but I did like it. I absolutely loved C.J. Tudor's first book, The Chalk Man, so I was really eager to read her newest book. This was not a bad book by any means but for me, it was missing that essential spark that I had hoped to find.

This is really Joe's story. Joe goes back to teach at his hometown high school. This town doesn't hold the best memories for him but he needs a job and there is one available at his old high school so he does what he needs to do. It is obvious right from the start that Joe knows how to work a situation and can fake it when needed. Joe has a few, okay more than a few, gambling debts so he is in desperate need of a job.

As a reader, you know that Joe has some history in this town, including whatever happened to his sister, Annie, but it takes a long time to find out exactly what happened. This book is told both in the present day and the past. I felt like a lot more of the book was set in the present day but I liked the story from the past a lot more. As the story came together and things were revealed, I just never felt all that surprised. I wanted something in this story to really shake things up but it seemed somewhat predictable for me.

I had a hard time connecting to Joe and really all of the characters in this book. I never felt like Joe could be trusted and he really just felt like a mess to me. I really have no problem liking flawed characters and often feel that they feel more realistic but Joe just seemed to be missing that redeeming quality that I needed to see. All of the characters in this book felt rather flat to me.

I think that a lot of readers will like this one a lot more than I did. I was looking forward to a dark story which I got but unfortunately, I couldn't connect with the characters and felt that the story was somewhat predictable. I did like the book and plan to read more from C.J. Tudor just as soon as it is available.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Crown Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was okay. I never felt like the story completely grabbed me and found the book pretty easy to set aside. I was actually more interested in the parts of the book that were set in the past. I did not like Joe or any of the characters but I didn't hate them either. Unfortunately, this book really didn't make me feel much of anything. I was mildly interested in how things would work out but the big reveal at the end didn't do much for me.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Imaginary Friend - Stephen Chbosky

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this book! This is a big book and somewhat intimidating due to its length. It is a big story though and I felt like all of those pages really were necessary. I have not read this author's previous novel but as soon as I saw this book, I knew that I needed to get my hands on a copy. My instincts were right and this book ended up being a wonderful experience.

Christopher and his mother, Kate, begin this journey in the middle of the night fleeing Kate's abusive boyfriend. They end up in a small town in Pennsylvania where Kate starts a job at the nursing home and Christopher starts making friends at school. They live in a hotel room and Christopher appreciates all of the small things his mother does for him. Then Christopher goes missing for an entire week and everything changes.

This is Christopher's story but it is also the story of all of the town's residents. We get to learn the backgrounds, the secrets, and motivations for all of the key players in town. Each piece of knowledge adds to the overall story and I loved it when a piece of the puzzle snapped into place. I thought that the story was really imaginative and there were some pretty amazing twists that I never saw coming. The cast of characters was quite large and very well done.

Christine Lakin did a fabulous job with the narration. She handled a very large cast of characters incredibly well with each character sounding unique. I thought that she added a lot of excitement into the story as well as the character's emotions. She has a very pleasant voice that was easy to listen to for hours at a time. This was my first experience in listening to her narration work and I was very impressed.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought this was a very well done story that was entertaining from beginning to end. I am thinking it might finally be time to give The Perks of Being a Wallflower at try.

I received a review copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing and I borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.

Initial Thoughts
I liked this book. I have not read The Perks of Being a Wallflower so I had the opportunity to look at this book with fresh eyes. Chbosky is most definitely a fine storyteller. There is a whole lot going on in this book and I loved it when a piece of the overall puzzle would snap into place. I felt fully immersed in this world and wanted nothing more than to see Christopher come out of everything better than when he went in. I listened to the audiobook and I thought that the narrator did a fantastic job with this story.

Vamped by David Sosnowski

Vamped - David Sosnowski

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I am always looking for a well-done vampire story and the cover of this book really grabbed my attention. I have had it sitting on my shelves for quite a while and even featured the book on a Books from the Backlog post a couple of years ago. I am so glad that I pulled it off my shelves and finally gave it a try because it was just as good as I had hoped it would be.

I have read a number of vampire stories and this one is a little different. Marty became a vampire during World War II and has seen the world change quite a bit. Marty and some of his friends decided to increase the population of vampires many years ago, although he doesn't share that information, and vampires now rule the world, and humans are kept only to be used. Things didn't work out quite as he had planned and with vampires running the world everyone is back at work and the world is somewhat normal, although without humans and all of their needs. Everything changes when Marty meets 6-year-old Isuzu Trooper though.

Marty decides to keep Isuzu safe instead of having her as a snack, which was his first impulse. If anyone ever finds out about her, she will be in terrible danger. This book covers quite a number of years and we get to see Isuzu and Marty learn to live with and trust each other. Since the world is full of vampires, there aren't any kids around anymore and Marty realizes how precious she really is. These two don't always get along and they both have a lot to learn but I enjoyed getting to see them both build a life.

Marty is a great character. He has done some pretty violent things and I appreciated the fact that we do learn his history during the course of this story. He doesn't always have the right impulses but he does try. In a lot of ways, Marty felt like a normal person just trying to figure out what to do with a kid that suddenly becomes his responsibility. Isuzu was also a wonderful character. She lived with her mother before living with Marty and has seen the world very differently. She was rather stubborn at times and didn't make things easy for Marty. I really thought that these two were a great match.

I would recommend this book to others. This is not your typical vampire story which is one of the things that I really enjoyed about it. I liked the fact that there was a thread of humor throughout the story which felt natural for the characters. I wouldn't hesitate to read more of this author's work in the future.

Initial Thoughts
I have had this book on my shelf for a very long time and I am so glad that I finally read it. I really liked Martin and enjoyed getting to know him through his history and the parts of his life that we see over the course of this story. He really grew over throughout the book. I enjoyed all of the other key characters and really liked the fact that there was a thread of humor throughout the book.

Book source: Purchased