Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller

Title The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller

Author L. B. Simmons

Release Date April 24, 2014


For some, it’s simply one of life’s certainties, nothing more. For others, it’s merely a fleeting thought, one often overshadowed by the reckless delusion that they have been blessed with the gift of immortality.

For Aubrey Miller, death is the definition of her very existence. Overcome with the guilt resulting from the loss of her beloved family, she alters her appearance from the once beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl to that of one shrouded in complete darkness, enveloping herself in her own unbreakable fortress of solitude as a form of protection for others.

As she enters her first year of college, her goal is simple: Earn a degree with the least amount of social interaction as possible. What she never anticipates is the formation of very unlikely relationships with two people who will change her life in ways she never believed possible: Quinn Matthews, the boisterous former pageant queen, and Kaeleb McMadden, a childhood friend from her past who never really let her go.

Over the years, as their connections intertwine and grow, a seemingly indestructible bond is formed between the three…

But when death painfully reemerges, Aubrey is lost once again, burying herself deeper than ever before inside the familiar fortification of her fears.

Will the refuge of friendship, the solidarity of life-long bonds, and the power of unconditional love be enough to do the impossible?

Will they be enough to finally bring about…

The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller?

****WARNING - Due to the graphic nature of some scenes, this book is not recommended for those who are particularly sensitive to the death of a child and/or suicide and is intended for mature audiences only. Contains adult language and themes.****

Wow. This book was fantastic.

I love a book that can make me feel. I laughed out loud. I cried actual tears. I connected with this book in a way that I find rare nowadays. I've seen a few reviews on Goodreads that marked this book as DNF because of the "cheesiness" or the "forced tragedy" (by this I mean the amount of tragedy that Aubrey faces in order to make the reader feel sorry for her), but I can't say I agree. I never once felt that things were cheesy or cheapened. There were no eye-roll moments. It all felt genuine to me.

The writing was wonderful. (I'm actually surprised at the great quality of writing in the books I've read lately.) In fact, it exceeded my expectations. Not that I really should have had any expectations since I've never read anything by the author before, but I did. I loved the characters, especially Quinn. I was able to connect with and sympathize with them. They felt like real people. The storyline spans over four years, but never once felt rushed. I was worried when I first saw the table of contents that things would be glossed over or the book would end up dragging, but no. It worked wonderfully. It was a pleasant surprise.

Overall, this was a great read. I'm so glad I decided to read it and I recommend you do, too.


5 out of 5 stars

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Teeth

Title Teeth

Author Hannah Moskowitz

Release Date January 1, 2013

Be careful what you believe in.

Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.

Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.

This is my first book by Hannah Moskowitz, but it certainly won't be my last.

Teeth is strange. It's perfect. It's heartbreaking and wonderful and lovely. It's so many things wrapped up in an amazing book.

The writing... well, I'll just say that I'd do anything to write like Hannah Moskowitz. Even though I've never read anything else by her, I don't believe anyone else could have written this story like she did. The characters brought this story to life. Teeth will always have a very special place in my heart. Always. The romance is subtle, but powerful. It's certainly not the knock you on your butt romance that many people desire in their books, but it's so much better. It couldn't have been done in a more realistic way.

This is a crappy review of a fantastic book. Go read it instead. You won't be disappointed.


5 out of 5 stars

Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review: Pretty Little Things

Title Pretty Little Things

Author Teresa Mummert

Release Date March 11, 2014

I was young enough not to understand that my life was different. Colin became the one person that I could count on to protect me. He suffered for the both of us by carrying the burden of our secret.

We were the lucky few that got a chance to start over. A fake family, a new home and a pretty little life built on lies. But while our lives continued to intertwine, we were put on very different paths. Now it was only a matter of time before they collide and the beast behind the beauty is exposed.

I realize I may be in the minority here, but this is my least favorite Teresa Mummert book to date.

Pretty Little Things fell flat. It was a quick read, but not in the "I must read it all now!" sort of way. It was short and, frankly, kind of boring. When I realized I was over halfway through the book and nothing had really happened, I knew I was in for disappointment.

I'm not sure the book had any redeeming qualities. The characters, Annie and Colin, didn't do it for me. Annie surely seemed to be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Colin had anger issues. And really, their "father" didn't get them any therapy after saving them? That's odd, especially what they supposedly went through. None of the characters felt real or multidimensional. The storyline was pretty boring. Nothing is really covered in any sort of depth, so we're left in the dark. Then, bam! The book is over.

This is a definitely a book I'd say you should pass on. There are better books, especially from Teresa Mummert.


2 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blog Tour: A Song for Us

Title A Song for Us

Series White Trash Trilogy, book 3

Author Teresa Mummert

Release Date April 22, 2014

In this highly anticipated follow-up to White Trash Damaged, Cass and Tucker have finally found their happily ever after, but can Eric, the band’s brooding drummer, ever let go of his past and find love?

From a small-town boy with fantasies of superstardom to rock star on tour with the suddenly famous band Damaged, Eric’s life has not been an easy journey. Now he struggles to let go of his past of physical abuse, a past that still haunts him. His anger is causing him to spiral out of control and he risks losing everything he has worked so hard for.

Only one person has ever gotten him to open up about his past: Sarah, the lead singer of Filth, the opening act on their first national tour—a fellow rocker with a confident fa├žade that masks her own painful secrets. But their bands’ rocky past and Sarah’s tumultuous relationship with her bandmate and boyfriend Derek force her to keep Eric at a distance. As their friendship begins to grow into something more, Eric has to find a way to let go of his tortured past, or it could jeopardize his only chance for a happy future...

Unlike the first two books, this book focuses on Eric, Tucker's bandmate. At first, this seemed a little strange to me. Since the first two books focused on Cass and Tucker, why would the third book be different? Wouldn't it have made more sense to give Eric his own book/series instead of throwing him into Cass and Tucker's? However, when I stopped for a moment and thought about it, it makes sense. Cass and Tucker have their happy ending and we did get to know more about Eric and Sarah in the second book (and that was something I wanted explored!). So, while it might seem somewhat strange to jump from Cass and Tucker to Eric and Sarah, it actually works well.

This was a very strong finish for the White Trash trilogy. In fact, I would say that it's the strongest book of the trilogy and it is definitely my favorite out of the three. A Song for Us is told from the perspectives of Eric and Sarah. The dual perspectives work very well for this book and give us a clear picture of what's going on. The story was both heartbreaking and beautiful. I'm so glad with how things worked out.

Overall, this was a satisfying ending to the White Trash trilogy. Though the book focused on Eric and Sarah, we did see Cass and Tucker and get glimpses at their happily ever after. I'd recommend this trilogy.


4.5 out of 5 stars

Author Bio

Teresa MummertI was a Russian spy at the ripe age of thirteen, given my uncanny ability to tell if someone was lying ( I also read fortunes on the weekends). By sixteen I had become too much of a handful for the Lethal Intelligence Ensemble (L.I.E.). I was quickly exiled to the south of France where I worked with wayward elephants in the Circus of Roaming Animals and People (C.R.A.P.). I was able to make ends meet by selling my organs on the black market for pocket change and beer money. At the age of twenty three I decided to expand my horizons and become a blackjack dealer in Ireland. I loved the family atmosphere at Barney's Underground Liquor Lounge (B.U.L.L.). People couldn't resist the allure of Liquor up front and poker in the rear. Eventually I became tired of the rear and headed off to the United States to try my hand at tall tales. That is what brings us here today. If you have a moment I'd like to tell you a story.

(This bio is not to be taken seriously under any circumstance.)

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Book Review: Love Letters to the Dead

Title Love Letters to the Dead

Author Ava Dellaira

Release Date April 1, 2014

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

This book is confusing for me to review/rate.

Overall, I liked this book. If I think about the book in terms of individual letters, though, I feel less certain about whether or not I liked it as much. I enjoy stories that are told in the form of letters. I especially liked that the letters are addressed to people that I am familiar with. However, the included details about the letter recipients, solely for the sake of the reader, kind of threw the story off. It felt strange to read the letter discussing the recipient's life and then transition into what was going on in Laurel's life. It didn't flow well for me.

The book is about dealing with loss, moving on, and becoming your own person after losing someone you're close to. I enjoyed the way the story unfolded, over time and in a realistic way. However, there were times where I just wanted to know what happened already! Laurel's grief over her sister's death is palpable. It rang true in her letters. I think her transition throughout the book was done well. It's hard dealing with life sometimes and this is especially so when dealing with such a great loss.

Love Letters to the Dead is a unique coming-of-age story. It will work for some, but fail for others.


3.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Review: The Spectacular Now

Title The Spectacular Now

Author Tim Tharp

Release Date  November 11, 2008

SUTTER KEELY. He’s the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

The characters in this book are fantastic. They are the kind of characters I love. I can see myself, my friends in them. They are real, relatable, and wonderful. Sutter, oh I just loved him so much.I loved my very own Sutter once (and for far too long). I think it's safe to say that we all know our own Sutter. He's an absolutely wonderful guy. He simply just falls short in the end. He's larger than life, intelligent in his own way, popular in that way that allows him to be friends with anyone, but he'll never be able to fulfill his full potential. He's got no long term direction and just free floats through life. And then, there's Amy. I think we all know an Amy, too. She's awkward, sweet, and soft-spoken. So much potential and all she needs is her own Sutter to unleash it all.

The writing is funny, sad, messy, and really captures teenage life. Yeah, there's underage drinking and sex. It's not obnoxious or dramatic, but it's real. These things happen, whether or not people admit it. Life is messy and sometimes it's hard to navigate. We all try our best. I believe Tim Tharp paints a beautifully crazy picture. Yeah, it might not end in a way we'd like, but it works.


5 out of 5 stars

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Review: The Book Thief

Title The Book Thief

Author Mark Zusak

Release Date March 14, 2006

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

The Book Thief has been on my to-read shelf for over a year. I finally made the decision to read the book because I'd like to see the movie (which I'll be doing as soon as I'm finished with this review).

This was a strange book to read. The story is narrated by Death. While this isn't strange, the frequent interjections that Death makes into the story are strange. They are also rather annoying. These strange interjections remove you from the story. I felt like they took away from the story rather than added to it. The story would have felt smoother and would have been, likely, more enjoyable without those interruptions. Aside from the strange narration, I found the random German words (and their immediate English translation) to be... well, useless. Yes, the story takes place in Germany and that's what they speak, but what do they add to to the story? Nothing. I'm probably nitpicking, but whatever.

After all that is said, I loved this book. It was a slow reading book, but that was okay. It made it easier to savor. The Book Thief is truly a book to savor. Yes, it broke my heart and made me cry. I wouldn't have it any other way. It was a wonderful book and I'm truly so glad I decided to read it. I can only hope the movie is half as good.


5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Book Review: Reclaiming the Sand

Title Reclaiming the Sand

Author A. Meredith Walters

Release Date March 17, 2014

Bully and victim.
Tormenter and tormented.
Villain and hero.

Ellie McCallum was a bully. No connection to anyone or anything. A sad and lonely existence for a young woman who had come to expect nothing more for herself. Her only happiness coming from making others miserable.

Particularly Freaky Flynn.

Flynn Hendrick lived a life completely disconnected even as he struggled to become something more than that boy with Asperger's. He was taunted and teased, bearing the brunt of systematic and calculated cruelty, ultimately culminating in a catastrophic turn of events that brought Ellie and Flynn’s worlds crashing down.

But then Flynn and Ellie grew up.

And moved on.

Until years later when their paths unexpectedly cross again and the bully and the freak are face to face once more.

When labels come to define you, finding yourself feels impossible. Particularly for two people disconnected from the world who inexplicably find a connection in each other.

And out of the wreckage of their tragic beginnings, an unlikely love story unfolds.

But a painful past doesn’t always want to let go. And old wounds are never truly healed…and sometimes the further you try to run from yourself the closer you come to who you really are.

Reclaiming the Sand is a wonderfully beautiful book. It's the type of book that will stick with you long after you've read it. It's sweet, touching, heartbreaking, and absolutely perfect.

Told from the perspectives of Ellie and Flynn, the story gripped my heart from the very beginning. Ellie was right. At times, I hated her. I absolutely hated her and how she handled her life. Of course, I held out hope for her. In my heart, I truly felt Ellie wanted nothing more than to be better than what she had been (not just for Flynn, but for herself as well). And she was right again when she said I'd love Flynn. I did, oh so much. Of course, he's not your typical "book boyfriend." He's different. He has Asperger's (a form of Autism). None of that mattered, though.  He has honest (to a fault), he was sweet, and he was innocence.  I fell in love with Flynn.

Ellie and Flynn's story was unlike anything that I've read. It was unconventional, full of trials that most people never have to deal with, and full of a love that most of the world longs to experience but won't. The author writes their story with a beauty that most (let's be honest, all) romance novels should be jealous of. Even though you'll likely hate Ellie at times and become frustrated with Flynn, their story will penetrate your soul and stay with you long after you've read it.

Reclaiming the Sand is my favorite book (so far) of the year.


5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: The Here and Now

Title The Here and Now

Author Ann Brashares

Release Date April 8, 2014

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world... if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

Whenever I started The Here and Now, I had no idea it was by the same author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (not that I've read those books, but I might after this). In turn since it was my first book by Ann Brashares, I had no expectations.

While it took me a few chapters to get into the story, I very much enjoyed Brashares's writing style. Once you're gripped by the story, it flows beautifully and becomes extremely hard to put down. I could have easily read it in one sitting, but I was much too tired.

As far as the story goes, I liked it. A lot, actually. Yes, the ending did make me a little sad, but I think that's another one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. That being said, I've read quite a few reviews on Goodreads (approximately one moth before publication) where people are disappointed in the story. Nope, sorry. I just don't agree. I liked it. On that note, one thing that's always perplexed me is when numerous people disagree with my opinion on a book. It always leads me to doubting myself and whether or not I actually know a good/bad when I read one. I refuse to let it get to me. I enjoyed it and if you didn't... well, that doesn't bother me one bit.

I recommend this book, especially if you're looking for something futuristic/dystopian. The Here and Now won't disappoint.


5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Unfinished Book: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Title The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Author Claire North

Release Date April 8, 2014

The extraordinary journey of one unforgettable character - a story of friendship and betrayal, loyalty and redemption, love and loneliness and the inevitable march of time.

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. 'I nearly missed you, Doctor August,' she says. 'I need to send a message.'

This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

I said once before that I had to be in the right frame of mind whenever I read science fiction. That's true. However, when I saw so many good reviews of this book on Goodreads, I figured that I'd somehow magically fall into the right frame of mind whenever I started reading. So, I requested this book from Netgalley and was pretty happy whenever I was approved to read it.

Unfortunately, no magic spell was cast whenever I started reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. I wasn't suddenly compelled to read this book for hours on end, it didn't grab my intention, and I even debated whether or not I wanted to continue reading it at all. In the end, I decided to let this one go unfinished. And while I have mixed feelings about this (and I may even return to this book one day), I feel it's the best decision for now.

Even though I decided to stop reading it, I think this book is very well written. I think that those that enjoy sci fi will greatly enjoy this book (just look at the positive reviews on Goodreads). At this time, though, it's just not for me.


No rating since I didn't finish the book.

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *