Review: Carter Reed 2 by Tijan

25042819 Synopsis: Carter bought his way out of the mafia to protect Emma, but when an old ghost returns to the Mauricio Family, a chain of events starts that can harm everyone. While Carter must decide to return to the Mauricio Family or not, a face that is oddly familiar to Emma comes into her life. She’s given the chance to discover more about her family while tension between the rivaling Mauricio and Bertal Family comes to a head in an explosive way. The truce is officially off, and when the two worlds collide, Carter’s decision is made.
He didn’t start this war, but he will end it.
He will do anything to protect Emma.

I discovered this author through Jane from the review blog Dear Author – which if you’re not reading you really should be – and I’m really glad I did. I’ve read through most of her back list with my favorite being the Fallen Crest series that is most of Tijan’s fans favorite! This is the sequel to the first Carter Reed, which I really enjoyed and gave 4 stars to. What I like about Tijan’s books is that they’re very over the top and dramatic. Many of the characters in her books are still in high school but their lives are much more complex than any adult in real life I know. Normally I’m not a big fan of angst but her characters don’t have the extreme angst that make them cry non-stop and need to be rescued. No, Tijan’s female characters are usually hardcore and whatever dramatic situation that has happened to them they deal with and move on. While they may need rescuing, they’re usually helping with their own rescue which of course I love.

So, about this specific book, unfortunately it was just average for me. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great but it was good. I had two main problems with this book. The first one being that Emma and Carter seemed to be apart for most of it. The whole point of the first book was to get the two of them together and give them their HEA or at least their HFN. It seemed in this book every time they were together their scenes were saying goodbye or hello and never actually being together. I like my couples together for at least a portion of the book. To be fair there were definitely a few times here and there but it just was so brief that it didn’t satisfy me enough. Their love for each other is very strong and it’s apparent that nothing will keep them apart but I would have liked to see them together.

You go where they go. You walk their same path. What happens to them, happens to you. It’s the burden of loving someone. You deal with it because that person is there when you need them.

My second problem with the book was that Emma kept waffling back and forth with her emotions. She and Carter were strong throughout the book in terms of their relationship but all of her other relationships she kept leaving and coming back to. I was getting really tired of seeing the same scene repeated over and over again with her friends. I like her friends and the relationship she has with them and I understood the complicated nature of those relationships. But the repetition was what was driving me crazy. Then a sister comes out of nowhere and the waffling continues with her. It just seemed disconnected to me with everything going back and forth like that.

This book was a bit of a let down for me but definitely won’t keep me from reading any more of Tijan’s books. She’s very talented and I won’t hesitate from reading the next Fallen Crest. That’s what I would recommend if anyone was looking for a book of hers to read.

3 Stars

~Melinda

Amazon

Book Review: Rock Her by Rachel Cross

17902151 Kate Gibson has spent her life taking care of other people. First her mother while she was sick and dying, then her younger sister while Kate herself went through college. Kate’s now a small town nurse living a pretty quiet life. Until she saves a surfer who has a seizure out on the water and the man who assists her is pretty much a rock god. From then on she’s thrust both into the spotlight and into being by Alec’s (the rock star) side.

I really liked the heroine for the most part. She’s a nurse, is selfless with most of her actions and in general it’s hard to not like her. But the relationship between her and her little sister drove me a little crazy. Basically her sister seemed to take complete advantage of Kate. They had been living on their mother’s life insurance policy previously but it’s pretty much run dry and Kate’s younger sister doesn’t seem to mind asking for money all of the time. What drove me even more crazy is Kate’s reaction to those requests. Actually, the whole secondary plot with Kate’s family is what cause me to not like this book as much as I could have.

The hero – Alec- is a whole different matter. I liked him mostly too, just not as much as Kate. he’s fought his demons in the past and been clean and sober now for over 10 years. Alec’s actually an entertainment lawyer since he left the Rock scene a while ago.

This is a well written book and the pacing was done well too. Everything moved along nicely and kept my attention from beginning to end easily. The characters were decent and the romance was hot but the secondary everything brought everything just down a little for me.

3 Stars

~Melinda

Amazon

Amazon UK

B&N

Book Review: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

18144115 Allison Weiss has the life she always wanted – the husband, daughter and all around good life. She gets to work from home, writing for a blog that has taken off and is getting busier and busier although her husband’s work life is adding stress to their home life. Okay and her semi perfect life at home isn’t so perfect because her daughter is kind of difficult to deal with, being very sensitive to everyday things. Allison is dealing with her father’s Alzheimer’s while her mother is pretty much not dealing with it at all. So her life is kind of falling apart around her and she finds that the Percocet she was prescribed once helps her deal with her daughter, Eloise’s, high pitched screams. The painkillers take the edge off her every day life and Allison finds herself popping them more and more and then figuring out how exactly to get more.

There were parts of the book that stuck out to me as painfully realistic. The descriptions of Allison’s battles with her daughter struck me as something I’ve definitely heard other women discuss before but is not seen openly portrayed. Eloise is sensitive to day to day life – noises and colors and just life in general. Children like that must be hard to deal with on the parents but the author did a great job of showing but the struggles and the joy of being a parent.

However the relationships between Alison and her own parents were not as realistic to me. These were portrayed both through flashbacks and in present day and I just couldn’t get a good handle on her relationship with them. The Alzheimer’s presented another stress for Allison in present day to overcome but the relationship didn’t seem to be fully developed to me.

The later part in the book deals with Allison’s painkiller abuse and I didn’t feel that was nearly as strong as the first part of the book. It seemed very rushed to me and not nearly as flushed out. We get an outcome to everything but it seemed to me that a lot was glossed over. I would have preferred to get more details in this part as well.

I’m a big fan of Weiner’s earlier work. Good In Bed is a fantastic book and one of my favorites. I didn’t think this was nearly as strong as that was but the first half was interesting and funny. If that would have continued throughout I would have given the whole book 4 stars but the last part pulled it down a bit for me.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgally in return for an honest review.

3 Stars

~Melinda

Amazon Available June 17th

B&N

Book Review: We Were Liars

16143347 I’m not sure if you’ve heard of this book yet, but I heard of the title quite a few months ago. But pretty much all I heard about it was that there was a ton of secrecy around the book. I requested it and got approved and the first thing in the book is a letter to the reader about how the secret in the book should stay secret and not be ruined for other readers. Of course I was intrigued and needed to know more.

But I don’t want to reveal anything to you because of the whole secrecy thing. It is kind of important to not know anything going into the reading of this book. So I’ll just try to vague-ish. First of all the narrator is unreliable, which is pretty apparent from the title..We Were Liars- and that includes the narrator. She reveals very early on that she has some sort of amnesia and spends most of the book trying to get people to tell her what happened to her before she lost her memory. I’m not a fan of unreliable narrators because I feel like most of my time reading is spent second guessing what I just read and thinking wait, what? This was definitely the case here.

The big reveal that came at the end of the book was not that surprising to me as I picked up on it about halfway to three quarters of the way through the book. But there was a twist within that reveal that did surprise me so there is that. I’ve heard rumblings of sobbing at the ending from other readers or reviewers but I don’t know if I’m devoid of emotion or what, it just didn’t do it for me.

What really didn’t do it for me was the writing style. It was choppy and stilted in many places. I think I just couldn’t get past that enough to get into the story and immerse myself into the mystery. For example:

His nose was dramatic, his mouth sweet. Skin deep brown, hair black and waving. Body wired with energy. Gat seemed spring-loaded. Like he was searching for something. He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever.

Those short, choppy sentences populate the book and that distracted me from the actual plot.

Overall, this book was okay. The secret was interesting enough but I wish the writing itself had worked better for me!

ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

3 Stars

~Melinda

Amazon

Amazon UK

B&N

Book Review: Tease by Amanda Maciel

18599901 This is an intriguing and somewhat provocative book about the hot topic of bullying. The story is about a teenage girl, Sara Wharton, facing criminal charges after another teen, Emma Putnam, commits suicide. The narrative is told from Sara’s point of view and switches from present tense and past tense so we get to see both Sara’s feelings about her consequences of her actions and her feelings about her actions as they happen which is really interesting to see.

When Emma moves to town most of the girls immediately dislike her and label her a “slut” for talking to the guys they like or just for doing things they disapprove of. We see through Sara’s eyes the judgement and general hatred the girls in the school had for Emma pretty quickly.

I give this book 3 stars from MY point of view and what I can take from it, which is what I do with all of my reviews. However, I can see how this book could potentially have a greater impact on someone who is a teenager or in middle school.

It’s a strong book for making the point that not everything is so black and white. Not everyone is perfect. The bullies in this book weren’t exactly aware of everything that is going on, even with their own actions. So while their bullying essentially leads to Emma’s suicide there are also other issues happening simultaneously.

I also know that while reading the book I could see myself if both the bullies and the victim and I don’t know that most people will like that uncomfortable feeling. Yet it’s an important feeling because in this world the book creates it shows that no one is really blameless.

So 3 stars from me but I would recommend for a younger crowd for better results. Entertaining yet educational.

ARC provided by Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

~ Melinda

Amazon

Amazon UK

B&N

Book Review: Vintage by Susan Gloss

18090110 I read a pretty wide variety of books but one area I don’t read much in anymore is Women’s fiction or “Chick Lit” because when there was a huge amount out – around the time that Jennifer Weiner was huge – I worked at a Waldenbooks store. Which as a reader was so not a good idea, I pretty much wanted everything in the store and bought pretty much everything too. Anyways, Women’s Fiction was big then and I read a ton of it until the point that I could pretty much predict a plot twist and ending so I had to cease and desist before I started really hating the genre for being so formulaic. I’ve just now been able to get back into reading in the area.

This book definitely didn’t give me flashbacks to those older books in the genre that I remember reading so that was a good thing for me. Violet runs a vintage store that is a lifelong dream come true for her and something that she truly loves doing. She believes that every piece of old clothing has a story, and when she sells those old pieces she also sells those stories with them. She finds herself with lease issues threatening her livelihood and has no idea what to do. We are also introduced to a few of her patrons, April, Elizabeth and Amithi. All of their stories intertwine with the stories of the clothes to present a cohesive story of the vintage shop.

What really worked for me here was the different voices and different chapters being told from varying points of views. Sometimes that can be really jarring in a book but here it was interesting because while it was individual it was also relevant to the main story and wound together with the clothing as well. I liked how the clothing could really help the story come alive in a way that didn’t seem possible.

However, I wasn’t so sure about each chapter starting with a piece of clothing and who it was donated by. At first I liked this touch until it didn’t relate to the chapter and who was narrating at that time. It confused me after a while when I couldn’t connect the two. The other part that was confusing to me was the use of flashbacks. Between the different points of views we already got, the pieces of clothing and the various characters I thought the flashbacks were over the top and only served to jar me out of the scene. It seemed to me that the few that were included were not necessary.

I would say this was a sweet story and a quick read overall.

I received this ARC via Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

3 Stars

~Melinda

Amazon

B&N

Book Review: Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison

18168638 I thought this would be a pretty straight forward, typical YA/NA book about 2 friends and 1 guy, love triangle type thing and it kind of was but it kind of wasn’t. It’s so hard to explain because yes it was a story about 2 friends and 1 guy but it didn’t seem very typical to me.

The story started off in a pretty normal way – with one kind of slutty, party friend and one nerdy, stay at home friend in their senior year of high school. They go to a party one night, which of course is not something that Natalie, the nerdy friend, really ever does anymore. Brooke, the party friend, neglects her boyfriend, Aiden, and Natalie blacks out that night. When she wakes up she knows she did something she regrets but is not quite sure what she did or who (ha!). As she tries to find out what occurred that night things are of course mysterious to throw off both her and the reader which I find irritating.

From there the POV switches back and forth between Brooke and Natalie which threw me off since this comes almost halfway through the book, if not over halfway through it. Switching POV seems much more natural if it occurs early on in the narrative. I think we as readers were supposed to like Brooke and feel sorry for her at some point in the story. That point never came for me. Not once did I start to think oh she’s doing X because Y happened to her or because she’s wanting attention from certain people. I just generally didn’t like her or the way she treated anyone in the book. If the point was for her to become a lovable bitch character that was never achieved for me.

As for Natalie I did like her more than Brooke but I was still annoyed with some of her actions as well as Aiden’s. There is a typical confusion in the book that could have been cleared up easily and those kind of things I can forgive if I love the characters but I didn’t here. There was one particular plot point I don’t want to give away that really irritated me because it’s so annoyingly common.

I’m bumping up to 3 stars because the book is well written and the characters are fleshed out, I just didn’t really enjoy the book all that much.

3/5 Stars

ARC provided via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

~Melinda

Buy Amazon

Buy B&N