Sunday, December 29, 2013

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Lou Clark leads a somewhat uneventful life. She lives at home with her parents, works at a tea and bun cafe, and has been dating the same man for seven years. Lou is content and does not seek out change or adventure, but her life is turned upside down when she loses her job. She does not possess many job trained skills and struggles to find the work she needs to help support her parents. When a position as a helper to a quadriplegic becomes available Lou decides to give it a try. 

Will Traynor is the exact opposite of Lou. Before the accident, he led a life full of excitement and adventure and as the head of a thriving business, possessed the means to do whatever he fancied. His life is changed forever when he is hit by a motorcyclist while trying to hail a taxi. As a result of the accident, Will is now confined to a wheelchair with only minimal ability to move his hands and shoulders. When Lou Clark walks into his life, he is a bitter man with no desire to live. 

As Lou and Will spend time together during her six month contract, they begin to develop a relationship that offers them each a new perspective on life.

My Thoughts:
Me Before You is the first book that I have read by Jojo Moyes. The cover and book blurbs are a little misleading, but I thoroughly enjoyed it even though it wasn't quite what I expected. This story is mostly told from Lou's viewpoint except for a few chapters that give perspectives from other minor characters. Lou is a strong, lovable character and I was drawn into her life almost immediately.  While this novel has many sad moments, it is also filled with much love and laughter.  I plan to read more by Jojo Moyes in the near future. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Heather and Dodge live in a small, dead end town of 12,000.  While Carp may be a boring town throughout the colder months, in the summer it becomes the home of Panic, a game that can only be played by graduating seniors. Heather has no intention of entering the game, until she attends the opening event with her friends Nat and Bishop.  In a last minute decision (partially made because she sees her ex-boyfriend with another girl), Heather jumps from the bridge that declares her a contender in the games. 

Dodge has been planning to enter the game since his sister was left crippled when she competed in Panic years earlier.  Partially motivated by revenge, Dodge's goal is to win and defeat the brother of the boy who left his sister in a wheel chair.  While Heather and Dodge are barely acquaintances before Panic, the game brings about new and unexpected friendships as the contenders face some of their most intense fears. 

My Thoughts: 
In Panic, the graduating seniors are competing in games that are life threatening and dangerous with the end game being recognition and a large cash prize.  As I read about the game, I assumed that Panic was another dystopian novel.  I partially came to this conclusion because Lauren Oliver's last series is dystopian, but the game of Panic also reminded me of the games in Suzanne Collin's The Hunger Games.  This initial confusion disturbed me a bit, because while I later realized that Panic is realistic fiction, it made me consider the idea that many elements of dystopian novels are becoming reality (i.e. the government spying on us). That being said, Panic is a very thought provoking novel that is full of suspense and one I highly recommend.  I look forward to hearing more reader's thoughts when this book is released.  

Note:  I received an advance copy of this book courtesy of Edelweiss.  It's scheduled release date is March 4, 2014.  In the meantime, check out the first book in Lauren Oliver's dystopian series:  Delirium. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Violet and her twin brother Luke have been left to fend for themselves in their dilapidated home formerly owned by their deceased grandmother.  Their artist parents live abroad squandering the family money.  In their quiet little town of Citizen Kane, Violet only has two companions, her brother and their neighbor Sunshine, until River West arrives and rents out their guest house.  River first appears to be a dream come true.  He cares for Violet in a way that she has not been cared for in a long time.  The only problem is that strange things begin happening in Citizen Kane shortly after River's arrival.  A group of children are found running around the local cemetery, claiming to be chasing after the devil. A child goes missing. Strange and unexplained deaths occur.  Each time one of these mysterious events occur, Violet begins to suspect that something is very wrong with River.  But how could he be causing these horrible things if he is with her when they occur?  Is River the guy she has always hoped for or is he something completely different from what he appears to be? 

My Thoughts: 
This new novel by April Genevieve Tucholke will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. Throughout the first half of the book, I hoped that River would be the good guy in the story.  As the story progresses that possibility seems less and less likely.  I could not figure out how River could possibly be attached to the mysterious events that were happening in Citizen Kane.  The suspense really increases when River's true self is revealed. Fans of Lucy Christopher's Stolen, will definitely enjoy this exciting novel that leaves you unsure of who the bad guy really is.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a writer, a writer of fan-fiction that is, and she is obsessed with the Simon Snow series (Simon is a Harry Potter-like character fighting against evil that seeks to destroy his world of magic). Her twin sister, Wren, is also a fan, but has mostly moved on to new things. Cath and Wren have been connected at the hip since they were little, and Cath was surprised when Wren didn't want to be her roommate in college.  Left to navigate her freshman year on her own, Cath spends most of her time going to classes, writing Simon fanfiction, and avoiding the dining hall. When faced with loneliness, a new fiction writing class, and a mentally ill father, Cath absorbs herself in the world of Simon Snow, believing it is much better than her own.  Noticing her intentional seclusion, Cath's boisterous roommate, Reagan, and her boyfriend, Levi,  attempt to befriend her.  As she moves through her freshman year and forges relationships with unexpected people, Cath begins to see that her own world isn't so bad after all.  

My Thoughts:
Rainbow Rowell has done it again.  I have been in a reading rut lately, unable to find any really good books.  I am currently stuck in the middle of two novels that I am desperately struggling to finish. Because I absolutely loved Rainbow's other two novels (Eleanor and Park and Attachments), I hoped that Fangirl would be great as well.  I was not disappointed.  I picked up this book two days ago and barely put it down until I finished.  Rainbow does such a superb job of creating and developing characters that you will fall in love with.  I cannot recommend this book enough.  And if you haven't read any of Rainbow's other novels, what are you waiting for?  I predict there will be some awards given out to this phenomenal author in the near future.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol & Agnete Friis

Nina Borg, wife and mother of two, has a compulsory addiction to danger.  As a Red Cross employee, Nina and her colleagues work with illegal immigrants by helping them find asylum from oppressors.  Despite her husband's pleas to live a simpler, more quiet life with her family, Nina finds herself constantly drawn into dangerous situations.  This is precisely why Nina gets into a very tricky situation involving a three year old Lithuanian boy she discovered drugged and stuffed into a suitcase.  Not knowing how he ended up there, Nina is determined to keep him safe and that means also keeping him away from the police until she knows his full story. With language as a major barrier, Nina seeks to find someone who understands him so she can decide what to do next. 

My Thoughts: 
The Boy in the Suitcase is the first in the series of Nina Borg novels.  As I read this book, I couldn't help but think of The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo.  While the subject matter is definitely different, both series deal with crime and corruption and offer a good amount of suspense.  My favorite element in this novel is how each chapter is written from a different character's perspective.  It is a little confusing in the beginning, but as I continued to read, I was able to figure out how they all fit together.  I will be picking up the next book in this series, Invisible Murder, very soon.  If you love crime and suspense, you will definitely enjoy this series! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Flat Out Love by Jessica Park

When Julie moves to Boston for college, she finds the apartment she rented from Craigslist doesn't actually exist. Stranded in an unknown city, she moves into the home of her mother's old college roommate. The Watkins family is a little strange to say the least. The parents seem a bit absent, one son is traveling the world, the other is practically a social recluse, and the daughter speaks without using contractions and carries around a life-size cutout of her absent brother which she calls "Flat Finn." Julie finds the family odd, but lovable, and quickly finds herself becoming a part of their home.  As she tries to find a way to help the awkward daughter Celeste, she finds herself falling in love with one of the brothers. But which one? The nerdy boy in the bedroom beside her? Or the adventurous traveler that she's been chatting with online? And what is the big secret that everyone seems to be hiding?

Flat Out Love is a sweet story about a girl finding her way and a family finding each other. The characters are quirky and interesting. I have to say the storyline was a little predictable, but I kept reading and second guessing myself right up to the very end. In short, it's a neat little love story that is just different enough from all the others to keep you turning pages well into the night.

**If you love this book, there is a companion piece called Flat Out Matt that retells some of the important chapters of the book from another character's point of view. I haven't read it yet, but my curiosity is piqued!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

Thirty-eight year old Bartholomew Neil lived with his mother his entire life.  When she is diagnosed with brain cancer and dies because of it, Bartholomew is left lost and alone.  His assigned grief counselor, Wendy, encourages Bartholomew to set new goals for his life (i.e. having a drink at a bar with someone his own age).  Bartholomew believes he has found a way to deal with his loss when he discovers a letter written to his mother from her favorite actor, Richard Gere.  Because his mother loved Richard Gere so much, Bartholomew decides to correspond with the actor and share about his life and struggles.  The letters written to Gere reveal elements of Bartholomew's past along with his longings for the future and a family of his own.  

My Thoughts: 
As you read Bartholomew's story you will find a lot of sadness, but you will also find an abounding amount of hope.  The Good Luck of Right Now is written completely in letter format. Each letter is written from Bartholomew to Richard Gere.  While it is unclear whether Bartholomew ever actually sends these letters, it is clear that the correspondence is one-sided.  This was a little weird to me at first, but I soon realized that it was perfect for Bartholomew.   

With this being the third Matthew Quick book I have read in the past month, I have to say that I have yet to be disappointed.  Quick does such a fantastic job of creating characters who are quirky, but also genuine.  His first person narratives allow readers to jump inside the minds of his characters and find their way around.  If you haven't picked up a Matthew Quick novel, you are definitely missing out. 

Note:  I received an advanced copy of this title via Edelweiss. The Good Luck of Right Now is expected to be published February 14, 2014.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I'm sorry I couldn't be more than I was—that I couldn't stick around—and that what's going to happen today isn't their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday.  He has big plans for the day that include delivering gifts to four friends, killing his former best friend with his grandfather's WWII pistol, and then shooting himself. Leonard's mother is completely disconnected from her son's life.  Working as a designer in New York, she leaves Leonard to fend for himself in New Jersey.  She doesn't even remember that today is his birthday.  In fact, no one knows that today is his birthday.  

Leonard spends the first hours of his day delivering gifts to the only four people he considers to be his friends.  He first visits his neighbor, Walt,  who is intensely obsessed with Humphrey Bogart films.  He then visits Lauren, a Christian homeschooler who has worked very hard to convert him to Christianity.  At school he delivers gifts to Baback, a violinist whose practice sessions he has listened to for years, and Herr Silverman, his favorite teacher who teaches his Holocaust class.  As Leonard meets with each of these four friends, he reveals not only his past experiences with them, but also what brought him to this day.  

My Thoughts: 
Matthew Quick tackles a very difficult subject in this novel.  In a time where school shootings are prevalent, I very much appreciate a book written from the shooter's perspective.  So often, and rightly so, we focus on the people that are victims of these shootings.  I do feel that we often forget to consider the young teenagers who feel that they are left with no other option than to kill their classmates and then end their own lives. What brings them to this point? Did they ever reach out to parents, friends, or teachers?  Was help offered?  In this novel, Matthew Quick creates a story that gives his readers an opportunity to see where Leonard has come from and why he has been brought to such a dark place.     

Note:  I received an advanced copy of this book to write this review. It is set to release on August 13, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

After spending time in a neural rehab facility, 34 year old Pat Peoples returns home with hopes of getting his life back together.  Pat is convinced that if he works out enough and reads enough classic literature, his wife will return to him.  Pat refers to their separation as "apart time" and is thoroughly convinced that it will soon come to an end.  Now living with his parents, things don't turn out quite like Pat planned. His family refuses to talk about his wife and he doesn't understand how so many things (i.e. the Eagles' football stadium being blown up) could have happened in the few short months he was away.  Pat eventually meets Tiffany, an eccentric woman who has experienced her own share of pain and sadness.  Tiffany convinces Pat that entering a dance competition with her will surely cause his wife to return to him.  

My Thoughts: 
Silver Linings Playbook is an excellent novel.  I actually saw the movie before I knew anything about the book and was so intrigued by it that I had to read the book as well. The book was even better than the movie, mostly because, as the reader, I was allowed inside Pat's head.  Pat's brain injury causes him to have many issues and reading the story from his perspective allowed me to understand him so much more.  While this book deals with a very serious subject, it is also hilarious.  The people in Pat's life are often difficult and their lives messy, but they are also what pulls him through in the end.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is set in a futuristic world where cyborgs, androids, and visitors from the moon (Luna) are all part of every day life.  Sixteen year old Cinder is a cyborg who lives in New Beijing with her wicked stepmother.  She remembers little to nothing about her life before age eleven when she was adopted by a scientist who soon dies and leaves her with his wife and two daughters.  While cyborgs are are considered a mistake of society, Cinder has many helpful capabilities:  Her brain interface allows her to be extremely adept at fixing things mechanical in nature and her portscreen is installed inside her brain allowing her to retrieve needed information quickly. Her mechanic's reputation brings the prince of New Beijing, Prince Kai, to her booth seeking assistance with his malfunctioning android.  Cinder is eager to be of assistance to the prince, but is soon distracted when her younger step-sister (and friend) is diagnosed with the plague that has been killing the citizens of Earth for over a decade.  Cinder's step-mother blames Cinder for her daughter's illness and volunteers her for plague research.  Cinder is poked and prodded and then injected with the plague virus.  What the royal scientists discover is utterly surprising and Cinder's status quickly changes from guinea pig to a commodity.  

My Thoughts: 
While I wasn't sure about the sci-fi parts of this novel when I first picked it up, I was quickly drawn in by the well developed characters and fairy tale elements.  Cinder is the first in the four book Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer.  This fractured fairy tale series is excellent.  I read Cinder in just a couple of days and quickly moved on to the second in the series, Scarlet. I have also had the privilege to read an advanced copy of the third book, Cress, due to release in February 2014.   While Cinder was an amazing book all on its own, what I love most about this series is the way Marissa Meyer weaves the characters together in the subsequent books.  Fans of dystopia... this is a must read! 

Note:  Check Marissa Meyer's website to find out more about the series.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Tana lives in a world where vampires are a real threat to society.  After years of living in hiding, they have made their presence known among the living.  To deal with the problem, Coldtowns (walled cities where vampires and humans coexist) were created.  The only problem is that once you enter a Coldtown you are not permitted to leave. 

One morning after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up to find a house full of corpses.  The only survivors are her arrogant ex-boyfriend and a boy with red eyes and pale skin. She finds that Aiden, her ex, has been bitten by a vampire and is beginning to go cold.  Gavriel, a vampire, is tied up and weakened by the sun coming in through the cracks in the blinds. Tana is determined to save them both and plans to take them to the nearest Coldtown.  The rescue mission goes as planned until the sun begins to set and the killer vampires emerge from the basement.  Tana attempts to follow Gavriel and Aiden out the window to her car, and is almost free, when vampire teeth make contact with her skin. Once they finally begin their journey, tensions rise as Aiden's blood thirst increases and Tana faces the possibility that she, too, could go cold.  

My Thoughts:
I know, I know... You are probably thinking: "Not another book about vampires."  Please believe me when I tell you that this is nothing like any other vampire book you have read. The slightly futuristic world that Tana lives in is not a pretty one. While most live in fear of being infected, some also desire to become immortal vampires.  Live feeds broadcast the happenings in Coldtowns and this depiction makes the quarantined areas look like exciting, non-stop parties. Once actually inside, humans discover that reality in a Coldtown is very different from how it is shown to be on television.  What I like most about this novel is that the vampires are not romanticized; they are depicted as blood thirsty predators who wreak havoc.  Interestingly enough, some still desire to become a part of the vampire world.  The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story that will leave you thinking about its plot and characters for days after you have read the last pages.  

Note:  I received an advance copy of this book to review.  It is scheduled for release on September 3, 2013.  You can read the first 8 chapters via Amazon and also watch the book trailer (below) in the meantime!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Fifteen year old Clary Fray expects nothing other than a normal night when she heads to a local New York City club with her friend Simon.  She definitely doesn't expect to see someone murdered by three tattooed teenagers in the club's store room.  And she is even more surprised when the body disappears into thin air.

This is Clary's first encounter with Shadowhunters.  Their job is to make sure downworlders (demons, vampires, etc.) don't get out of control.  Usually mundanes, ordinary people, can't see them and they are as equally surprised as Clary when they discover that she can see their dealings with the demon.

Clary is quickly thrown into the world of Shadowhunters when her mother is attacked and kidnapped by a demon. Determined to find her mother and to find out why she can suddenly see this whole new world, Clary embarks on a mission to discover the truth.

My Thoughts:
The Mortal Instruments series has been in my "to read" pile for a while.  I kept hearing how great the series was, but I just wasn't very interested.  I picked up this first book because I wanted to have at least read the first in the series before the movie comes out in August.  Maybe the story gets better as the books progress, but I had a very hard time getting into it.  To be fair, there are four more books in the series and the story definitely has potential to improve.  While the book wasn't my favorite, I am very eager to see it on the big screen.  I have a feeling that this is one of those rare books that I will like better as a movie.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Diana Bishop is a middle aged librarian/historian studying alchemy.  She has spent her entire life pretending not to be a witch, despite a long line of renown witches in the Bishop family.  While studying at Oxford, Diana accidentally uncovers a long lost manuscript that holds some sort of secret desired by all those in the supernatural community (witches, daemons, and vampires).  Not knowing its value, Diana sends it back into the stacks only to soon find the Oxford library packed with supernatural creatures wanting to get their hands on it.  Diana notices one vampire in particular, Matthew Claremont, who has begun to consistently lurk around her area of study.  After a few more intimate encounters (yoga and a couple of breakfast and dinner dates), Diana finds that Matthew is the only one she can trust to help her discover the secrets of the ancient manuscript.  

My Thoughts:
This book has been on my radar for quite some time.  I finally picked it up a few weeks ago and was not disappointed.  I was instantly drawn in by the characters and setting.  Diana is a woman who has tried desperately to avoid her magical abilities, but they just seem to seep out of her.  She is also a historian studying at a famous library in Oxford, which makes the story all the more interesting.  As I read this book, I often thought of it as an adult version of Harry Potter (and when I say adult, I mean it has adult characters not that it is X-rated).   The fantastical world in this novel is beautifully crafted and left me pining for the next book in the series.  

Note: A Discovery of Witches is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. The second in the series, Shadow of Night, has recently been released.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

One seemingly normal day, Emily Coleman walked away from her life. She left her little family and her lovely home behind and created a new identity and a new life. What could drive a person to do this? Could you really completely reinvent yourself? Is running away ever the right answer? What is the mysterious date that looms before her and will force her to face her past? No one can guess Emily's secret. Will you?

One Step Too Far is a brilliantly crafted book. I never guess Emily's secret. It's rare that a book catches me off guard, but this one did it! I had to reread the ending twice just to make sure I read it right, then I went back through the story looking for the clues I missed.  The book is so well-paced, you will keep turning the pages to see where Emily will take you next. The most interesting part of the book was unraveling the secret, but the book poses other underlying questions. Is there anything that could justify simply walking away from your life? Is Emily broken or just selfish? Is it possible to leave yourself behind and become someone new? 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

White Trash by Alexandra Allred (Blog Tour!)

Set in the small rural town of Granby Texas, White Trash follows multiple characters whose lives are all somehow connected.  The story begins when Thia Franks returns to Granby after having sworn to never return to the small southern town.  After finishing her undergrad at Duke, Thia follows in the footsteps of many Granby young women and gets knocked up.  Not knowing what else to do, Thia brings her daughter Ella back to her hometown to live with her mother.  As Granby's top newspaper reporter, Thia hears about everything that goes on in her town including racism, ignorance, abuse, and affairs.  Alexandra Allred elaborately describes the inhabitants of Granby including characters like Chester Kennedy, whose fainting goats constantly wreak havoc on the small town.  Things spin out of control even more when James Otis, a young black man, is brutally murdered.  The town cops have few leads and racial tensions continue to rise.  

Erienne's Review:  
I throughly enjoyed this novel.  Having grown up in a small southern town myself, I could relate to many of the happenings within the book.  Allred paints an accurate picture of life in small southern towns and is able to exemplify the complexities within.  While many of the character's actions are looked down upon, Allred also presents characters who are hard working, caring, and honest.  I at times had trouble keeping up with all of the characters, but found myself wanting to know more about each of them.  I especially liked how Allred created a mystery that tied so many of the characters together in the end.  

Sarah's Review: 
White Trash does an excellent job of reaching into the heart of a small southern town. I really enjoyed the descriptions of all the characters and found myself wrapped up in the mystery of James Otis' murder. I'm usually pretty good at figuring out "whodunnit," but I could not guess this one! There were so many crazy characters that I could imagine any of them being capable of anything, even murder. The book was very funny in parts and serious in others. Alexandra Allred spins a good tale while exposing prejudices, and showing the underside of life in a small town.

Note:  We received an advance copy of this title to review.  The actual publication of the book is scheduled for June 6, 2013.  To connect with the author visit:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Interview: Maggi Myers (author of The Final Piece)

A big thanks to Maggi Myers for doing this interview with us!! Be sure to pick up a copy of her book, The Final Piece.

Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born in Des Moines, IA and raised in Miami, FL. I currently live in Greensboro, NC with my husband and our 2 monkeys - CJ and Cameron. Most people are fairly shocked to find out I laugh a myself mostly. Seriously, my personality doesn’t reflect the tone of my writing. In fact, I’m rather smiley. How annoying, right? I’m a realist, an Incredible Hulk enthusiast, a mother, an advocate, a calamity, a nerd (and proud of it), and I am a survivor.

What inspired you to write this first book?
I’ve always found writing to be the best way to express myself. It’s served as therapist, lifeline and anchor growing up. In 2004, I lost the person who embodied those same attributes. He passed away never knowing what he meant to me, so I started to write a character that reflected who he was and what he did for me - Tommy. So, Tommy’s existed for a very long time. Beth, Ryan, and the rest of the menagerie, took shape years later.

Last May, I read a book called The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher that blew me away. The characters in this book didn’t follow the typical “rules” of literary fiction. Ms. Fisher was unapologetic and bold in her storytelling. She didn’t sugar-coat anything, and I loved it. It made me brave enough to revisit Tommy and finish writing the story he belonged in.

How long did you work on The Final Piece?
I began outlining in June of 2012 and completed the first draft in October 2012.

How did your interest in writing originate?
When I was a little girl, I had a hard time finding “my voice.” I was a painfully shy and sensitive child who spent a lot of time alone or with adults. It was intimidating!  Writing gave me a means to map out what I wanted to say and perfect it, first. It allowed me to connect with feelings that scared me, help me process them and let them go. Storytelling was my escapism, and my refuge from being lonely.

Are experiences in The Final Piece based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’m a survivor of sexual abuse, but Beth’s story is her own. I wove certain feelings and experiences into the storyline in order for Tommy to shine as Beth’s hero, just like Bobby did for me. That is the biggest parallel to real life, right there. Tommy was Beth’s champion, and Bobby was mine. I also wanted to give Beth the one thing that helped me survive my own story - a great family. So, those are some of the things that are based on me.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Tommy. He is my favorite character, because he never doubted Beth for one second.

What books have influenced your life most?

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expurey
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher
How to Kill a Rockstar by Tiffanie DeBartolo
If I Stay/ Where She Went by Gayle Forman

*There are so many books that have shaped me & my writing. These are a few that came to mind*

What book are you reading now?
Picturing Perfect by Melissa Brown.

What are your current projects?  Can we expect another book?
I just signed with Amazon Publishing, so things have slowed down a little bit. Traditional publishing works much slower than self publishing! I am working on a book called An Enigma Project and there is an excerpt on my blog at It is scheduled for a February 2014 release.

Anything else you would like to add?
Never let someone else dictate what you are capable of.
Have Faith.
Cherish Love.
Never give up Hope.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

Teddi Overman is the owner of a successful antique shop in Charleston, SC. She has an eye for what can be made beautiful, and maybe that is why she has so much trouble letting go. Teddi's charming southern life is haunted by a family she has disconnected with and the disappearance of her beloved brother. When signs begin to appear that he may still be alive, Teddi begins a journey that will return her to her past in rural Kentucky where she finds more to her family's story and ultimately herself.

Looking for Me is a lovely book. The characters are real and lovable, from the quirky old lady that habitually steals from her shop to her dear best friend that collects Pez dispensers. Teddi's relationship to her mother is fragile and heartbreaking. It is a story of loss, rebirth, searching, and finally hope. The mystery of her missing brother is what will keep you turning the pages, but there is so much more to this book. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Final Piece by Maggi Myers & Book Giveaway

Beth Bradshaw hasn't had the easiest life. From the time she was five years old, Beth was sexually abused by a family friend.  Her drug abusing parents didn't notice what was happening and Beth kept it to herself for years.  Beth finally decides to tell her mother, who chooses not to believe her.  It isn't until her uncle and his best friend Tommy come to visit that she finds someone who will.  Surrounded by comfort and love from her extended family, Beth slowly begins to come out of the shell she has hidden in for so long.  While spending that summer with her grandparents, Beth also gets to know  Tommy's nephew, Ryan, who becomes her first love. 

Years later, Beth finds that she is still struggling to pick up the pieces from her broken life.  When another tragedy strikes, Beth is forced to look back at her life and face all that she has been running away from.

My Thoughts:
I met Maggi Myers a few years ago, but wasn't aware that she was a writer.  When I heard that she had written a book, I was eager to get my hands on a copy.  I was not disappointed.  I fell in love with her characters from the beginning.  Beth is a character who struggles deeply and I found myself rooting for her to heal and find love. Beth's extended family members were her safe haven and a beautiful picture of love in the midst of tragedy.  I read this book in less than two days and wanted to read it again after I was finished.  Be sure to put this one at the top of you summer reading list! 

A Final Piece Giveaway:
Since I enjoyed this book so much, I got in touch with Maggi to see if she would be willing to sign a copy of the book for us to give away. She was more than willing to do so and is also going to do an author interview in the next few weeks.  That being said, one of our lucky readers will get an autographed copy of The Final Piece. Enter below by first liking fictionfinders on Facebook. You can receive an additional entry by letting us know what book you are currently reading!  The giveaway ends at midnight on June 4th.  Good luck!

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Blond haired, blue eyed Sookie Stackhouse lives in the small southern town of Bon Temps, Louisiana.  While she may appear to be an average southern girl, Sookie has a very unique talent; she can read minds.  Most of the local townspeople consider her to be a little crazy because of this quirk and Sookie has become somewhat of a recluse.  Dating has been especially difficult for her because she always knows what her dates are thinking.  While working at the local Bon Temps bar, Merlotte's, Sookie finally meets a guy whose thoughts she cannot read.  Bill is tall, dark and handsome, but he has an affliction of his own; he is a vampire.  Bill and Sookie begin dating and things are going great until multiple women known to associate with vampires are murdered.  Sookie then begins to see her telepathic ability as more of a gift than an affliction as she tries to read minds to discover who the killer might be. 

Erienne's Review:  
Since this has been one of my favorite series, I thought it was about time to post a review.  Dead Until Dark is the first book in a thirteen book series by Charlaine Harris.  The final book, Dead Ever After, was just released this month. These books have been the basis for the HBO tv series, True Blood.  While the characters are the same, the storyline is very different.  If you have seen or heard anything about the tv series, you are probably thinking that the books are all about vampire killing and sex.  While there is a some of this in the books, HBO made sex and blood the focal point for the television show.   I attempted to watch the first few seasons, but found that I liked the books much better.  Charlaine Harris does a fantastic job of portraying life in a small southern town while also adding a supernatural twist.  Sookie is a very lovable character and her adventures continue to be intriguing throughout all thirteen books.  This is a series I highly recommend!  

Sarah's Review: 
If you haven't read this series yet, you don't know what you're missing. While I actually had a hard time getting into the first book in the series, Dead Until Dark, something told me to push on. I was so glad I did! From the second book, the series took off and I found myself transported to Bon Temps. As the series comes to a close, I feel as if I'm saying goodbye to some very good friends. Sookie and the other residents of Bon Temps are so well-written that after thirteen books you really feel you know them well. Even if you're not a huge fan of vampires or are a little tired of all the vampire-mania, you will enjoy this series. There's a little bit in there for everyone, humor, action, romance, and since they are all out now you won't have to wait to read the next book. You can plow through all thirteen!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

14 by Peter Clines

When Nate Tucker moves into his new apartment he begins to notice strange things about the building. All the apartments are just a bit odd. The building is wrapped in mysteries, from the padlocked apartment 14 to the apartment with no doorknob. The building manager has repeatedly warned the tenants not to ask questions, but Nate and his new friends can't seem to stop investigating. What they unravel may be the end of them. It may be the end of everything.

14 is a fast-paced apocalyptic novel that takes the reader on a wild adventure.  I've been seeing this book on popular reading lists, so I had to give it a try. It was well-worth it. As the tenants of the Kavach building got to know each other and embarked on this adventure I felt that I was right there with them. The characters were witty and interesting.  I hesitate to call this a science fiction book (though it definitely is) because so much of the story is spent unraveling the mystery. I think people that are not into science fiction will enjoy the story just as much as those that are. If mutant cockroaches don't give you the heebie-jeebies, then you will probably love this book!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Storycatcher by Ann Hite

Sixteen-year-old Shelly Parker works as a servant girl for the Dobbins family. All her life she has had the gift of "sight". She is constantly accompanied by the dead that roam Black Mountain. Then one day the spirits begin to warn Shelly of a danger that lies ahead.  Pastor Dobbins is an evil man with a dark secret, and Shelly finds that she is the one that can unravel the stories, uncover the truths, and save them all.  Set in the south during the depression, The Storycatcher travels from the hills of Black Mountain to the Georgia coast. Told from multiple points of view, Ann Hite does a remarkable job of weaving the story together and connecting all the pieces.

It has been a while since I have read a book so fast. I devoured this book. The Storycatcher has all the right elements: a vivid setting, well-developed characters, a mystery that will pull you in, and just a touch of magic. The pace of the book moves in such a way that you feel like maybe you could just get in one more chapter before bed, and then find yourself huddled in for fifty more pages. I hesitate to use the word haunting since it is a story about spirits, but the story lingers in the shadows of your mind even as you try to put the book away. Ann Hite captures the voices of her characters and the voice of the south brilliantly.  This is a story that you will not soon forget.

**The Storycatcher will be released on September 10, 2013. I suggest you go ahead a pre-order a copy.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Out of Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Seventeen year old, Josie Moraine, lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans during the 1950s.  Her mother is a prostitute with little regard for Josie's well being. Josie lives in a room above the bookstore where she works and also cleans the brothel where her mother resides.  The brothel is run by Willy, a strict madam who loves and takes care of Josie more than her own mother.  Despite her circumstances, Josie refuses to feel sorry for herself and desperately wishes to attend a girl's college away from New Orleans. As she saves money to leave "The Big Easy," Josie finds herself dealing with mobsters because of her mother's criminal dealings.  She also becomes entangled in a number of her own lies and isn't sure if she will be able to escape.  

My Thoughts:
I always forget how much I love historical fiction until I pick up a book like Out of Easy. This novel by Ruta Sepetys is full of New Orleans history.  While I love the characters, I was most intrigued by everything I learned about New Orleans during the 50s. I went to New Orleans a couple a years ago for a conference and as I read this book, I felt like I was back walking the streets in The French Quarter.  Fans of historical fiction will love this one!  I have also heard that this novel could possibly be a contendor for the Printz Award.   

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Moving back home after acquiring an undergrad and multiple master's degrees, Lincoln finds that he still doesn't know who he is or what he wants.  He lives with his mother and has a very limited social life.  The most interesting thing about his current situation is that he works nights at The Courier as their internet security officer.  As the "tech guy" for his company, Lincoln is also responsible for monitoring company wide email accounts.

Beth and Jennifer are aware that their emails are being monitored, but have yet to receive a warning.  The become more and more at ease with sharing their lives via company email.  Beth tells Jennifer everything about her life, including her deep desire to be married, and Jennifer shares her anxieties about becoming a parent.

Lincoln plans to send Beth and Jennifer a warning when their emails are first flagged, but he quickly becomes intrigued by their conversations. When he finally realizes that he is falling for Beth, without ever actually meeting her, he has been reading her emails for far too long to be considered normal.

My Thoughts:
After reading two novels by Rainbow Rowell, I have decided that I am definitely a fan. Her writing is witty while exemplifying real life struggles and relationships.  In both Attachments and Eleanor and Park, I have immediately bought into her characters and the problems they face.  Her novels are both serious and hilarious at the same time.  If you liked Eleanor and Park, this one is also great!  Looking forward to the release of her next novel, FanGirl, on September 10, 2013.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Pi Patel is a very likeable Indian teenager who chooses to actively practice three religions:  Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam.  As the son of a zoo owner, Pi is also very knowledgeable about animals and their behaviors.   The family zoo is located in the southern Indian city of Pondicherry and its animals and their habitats are described in detail.  In attempts to escape civil unrest in India during the 1970s, Pi’s family decides to move to Canada. While some of their animals are sold in India, many have been sold to zoos in America and Canada.  Pi and his family therefore set off on a Noah’s Ark type adventure when they board the ship, Tsimtsum, with their remaining zoo animals.  Not long into their journey, the Tsimtsum sinks and Pi finds himself alone on a lifeboat with an orangutan, a zebra, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger (whose name is Richard Parker).  After Richard Parker kills the other animals, Pi attempts to stay alive by training the tiger as a lion tamer might tame lions in the circus.  

My Thoughts:   
I have to admit that this is not a book I planned to read.  I found it hard to imagine that a story about a boy being stuck on a boat with a tiger would be worth reading.  I finally picked up the novel when it was chosen as a book club selection.  While there is a little more detail and description than I would prefer, I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline. By far, my favorite parts of the book are before Pi and his family board the ship.  Pi spends a good amount of time describing his life in India.  He tells why he chose to practice three religions instead of choosing just one and he paints beautiful pictures of the animals and their lives at the zoo.  There is also a bit of a twist at the end of the novel that I was not expecting.  After experiencing this story in print, I am definitely looking forward to seeing the movie!  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

In Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Therese Anne Fowler introduces the world to the little known counterpart of F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife.  The book is a fictional story that is rooted in detailed research.  The story centers around the ill-fated couple, but it also documents life during prohibition and the Jazz Age- a time when New York and France were brimming with contemporary artists such as Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.  Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were the "golden couple" of their time, but behind closed doors (and often publicly as well) there was a different story to tell.

With the release of the new Gatsby movie looming, I thought it was the perfect time to read this book. Zelda Fitzgerald was a woman born before her time. She was artistic and bold, and married to a man that both loved and hated her for it. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's story is a tragic one. There has long been question as to which of them was responsible for the ruin of their lives. Fowler did a very nice job of staying in the middle and letting the readers decide for themselves. I tend to find myself on Team Zelda, but then I realize that a saw a bit of myself in her. Though she was certainly an unusual and outstanding woman, Zelda was simply trying to do what all women want to do- to find yourself, to leave something for the world to remember you by, to be a good wife and mother, to mean something.  This book is a fabulously written piece of historical fiction.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In the summer of 1922, 29 year old Nick Carraway has just moved from Minnesota to New York.  Nick rents a house in the West Egg district of Long Island.  West Egg is mostly populated with the newly rich who do not have many social connections and tend to find ways to elaborately display their wealth.  Jay Gatsby, Nick's next door neighbor is known for his extravagant weekly parties that are overflowing with alcohol and people Gatsby doesn't know.  In contrast, East Egg is a very fashionable area that is home to the more established upper class. While Nick lives in West Egg, he has family connections in East Egg and decides to pay them a visit shortly after moving to New York.  Daisy Buchanan (Nick's cousin) and her husband Tom are the exact representation of those living in East Egg.  They are extremely wealthy and seem to be living the "American Dream."  While Daisy and Tom appear to be happy and content, Nick soon learns that Tom is having an affair.  

Soon after his visit with Tom and Daisy, Nick is invited to one of Gatsby's famous parties.  He knows no one at the party until he runs into Jordan Baker, a friend of Daisy's.  This is also where Nick meets Gatsby for the first time.  Nick and Gatsby end up becoming friends and Nick discovers that Gatsby and Daisy were lovers before he went off to war and Gatsby has moved to West Egg with the sole purpose being to rekindle his lost love with Daisy.  

My Thoughts:
The Great Gatsby is one of those books I was supposed to read in high school, but didn't.  I didn't become an avid reader until I was in college, so I regrettably read the Cliff Notes instead of the actual book.  I decided that I was going to read this book before the new movie came out.  I read it in just a couple sittings and found myself very intrigued with the story and the characters.  They all seemed to be pursuing wealth and social status with the idea that it would bring them joy and happiness.  I love how F. Scott Fitzgerald shatters this idea by showing a group of people who are wealthy and have a great social standing, but are ultimately unhappy.  The Great Gatsby is by no means a story that makes you warm and fuzzy inside, but it is a story that shows how, in and of themselves, the pursuit of wealth and prestige will not make us happy.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Every so often I read a book that is so good I have trouble writing a review about it.  Will I do the book justice?  Can I convince you in just a couple short paragraphs that this book should be moved to the top of your "to read" pile?  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is one of those books.  I hope my words will be enough to persuade you.  

Sixteen year old Eleanor has just moved back home after spending a year living with an acquaintance of her mother. She was kicked out of her childhood home by her abusive, alcoholic stepfather and he has finally allowed her to live with them again.  While she was away, her family moved into her stepfather's house and she now has to share a room with her four siblings. On her first day at her new school, Eleanor's appearance begs for her to picked on. Her clothes are too big and have holes in them. Her hair is curly and extremely red. She almost instantly receives the nickname "Big Red" due to her red hair and the fact that she is a "big girl." When she gets on the bus no one wants her to sit with them.  No one except Park.  Park is a half-Asian boy who wears eyeliner, listens to punk rock, and reads comics on the bus.  He initially allows Eleanor to sit with him because he feels sorry for her.  For their first few weeks as seatmates they do not speak to one another and are sure to maintain six inches between them.  Then Park discovers that Eleanor is reading his comics over his shoulder.  He begins bringing comic books for her to borrow.  They finally begin talking to one another, discovering they share a love for music as well as comics.  Park soon finds that he is drawn to Eleanor and that her weirdness makes him like her all the more. Eleanor can't figure out why Park likes her.  All she knows is that he makes her feel safe and she can't wait to see him each morning.

My Thoughts: 
Eleanor and Park is one of those books that keeps you thinking about the characters and their experiences long after the final pages. This coming of age story is about first loves and all the obstacles we have to overcome to find ourselves.  As I read, I couldn't help but think about how the story reminded me of John Green's books.  They convey a similar message: The world is not always pretty, but hopefully some happiness can be found along the way.  And don't let the young adult label stop you from reading this one.  This story has no age limit. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Iron House by John Hart

Growing up in the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, brothers Julian and Michael learn life's hard lessons fast. When a brutal murder occurs, older brother Michael takes the blame to save his brother and flees the home. Living on the city streets, Michael joins a life of organized crime. As a respected and feared member of the community, Michael thrives until he meets Elena and they decide to start a family. Michael quickly learns that leaving "the family" that he already has is not so simple. With a price on his head Michael must return to the terrors of his childhood home and once again save his brother and all that he loves.

Iron House is a non-stop thriller from start to finish, fast moving and well written. At the root of the story there is an old mystery to unravel and Hart weaves the clues into the storyline perfectly. I really enjoyed this book and found it difficult to put down. It's a story that will haunt the corners of your mind for a long time. A warning: there are some very graphic and brutal scenes in this book. If you are squeamish you might want to skip it, but I didn't think it took too much away from the story.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Set in North Carthage, Missouri, Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne.  The novel begins on Nick and Amy's fifth wedding anniversary.  Nick leaves for work the morning of their anniversary only to soon be called back home by a neighbor who has suspicions about happenings at the Dunne house.  Nick returns home to find the house torn apart and Amy missing.  Upon investigation, the North Carthage police determine that Amy has most likely been murdered.  Nick declares his innocence but all of the evidence points to him, including Amy's diary that gives a whole new perspective to their relationship. 

Erienne's Review:  
I love a good mystery.  From the very beginning of Gone Girl I tried my best to figure out what happened to Amy and whether or not Nick fell into the typical "husband kills his wife" category.  Alternating chapters tell the story from Nick and Amy's (via her diary entries) perspectives. As I read, I couldn't decide whose side I was on. Was Nick guilty?  Did he really kill his wife on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary? Gone Girl isn't your typical "who did it" story and the twists throughout the novel will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat. You definitely don't want to miss this one! 

Sarah's Review:
This book really got under my skin. First of all, I am one that always figures out the ending of a book long before it happens, but I could not guess where this book was headed. It might be one of the best mysteries I have ever read. Just as Erienne said, I couldn't figure out who's side I was on. The problem was I didn't like either character. I thought they were both nuts! If you haven't read this book yet, go get it today. It's like a literary roller coaster ride!