Blind Spot Blog Tour (Review + Giveaway)

"It's a story about how sometimes we fail to see things that are right in front of us."

Since You've Been Gone (Review)

"fabulous, wonderful, endearing, amazing story"

Dissected by Megan Bostic (Blog Tour)

"Powerful & Thought Provoking"

In Honor by Jessi Kirby (Review)

"This is going on my favorites shelf and I will probably reread it again in the future."

Blog Tour: Hungry by H.A. Swain (Review + Giveaway)

"Hungry is a captivating and thought-provoking story set in a fascinating world."

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Review))

"All-in-all, a perfect summer read and you should totally pick up these books, if you haven't already!"

The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle (Review)

"The Edge of Falling is a beautifully told story, both in plot and writing."

Hexed by Michelle Krys (Review)

"Hexed was just the thing that I needed to get back into the reading world."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blog Tour: The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield (Review)



Genre:
Adult, Thriller, Mystery 
Publication.Date  October 14th 2014
Pages:384
Published By:  Gallery Books
AuthorSophie Littlefield

The Missing Place on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:


Twenty-year-old Taylor Jarvis and Paul Carroll go missing in Weir, North Dakota, where they have been working on rigs owned by Oasis Energy. The boys stayed in Black Creek Lodge, a ?man camp? providing room and board. The mothers of the two boys come to Weir to find out what happened to their sons and form an uneasy alliance. Shay Jarvis, a 41-year-old single grandmother, has more grit than resources; for wealthy suburban housewife Colleen Carroll, the opposite is true. Overtaxed by worry, exhaustion, and fear, they question each other's methods and motivations - but there is no one else to help, and they must learn to work together if they are to have any chance of breaking through the barriers put up by their sons? employer, the indifference of an overtaxed police department, and a town of strangers with their own secrets against a backdrop of a modern day gold rush.

(Goodreads)


"Andy wanted me to wait. He said...he said we should give Paul a few more days, it was probably all a misunderstanding."
"Fuck that," Shay said before she could stop herself. "You're the mom. You know when something's wrong."
Give him back. You have to give him back to me.




     The Missing Place is equal parts tense and thrilling mystery and heartbreaking drama. This is a story of two mothers joining their forces to find their missing sons, or at least discover what happened to them. Personally, I think anyone can enjoy a well written mystery such as this one, but, undoubtedly, mom-readers will find it particularly riveting. 

     I enjoyed the mystery part - it was well constructed and satisfying, even if slightly far-fetched in some aspects - but it's the family drama, the crippling despair of not knowing where your child is and what happened to them, the grief and pain and desperate attempts at holding on to one's sanity while pushing through and fighting against - what felt like - the whole world that really hit me hard and resonated with me deeply. I can not imagine ever finding myself in a similar situation, but I know that just like Shay and Colleen I would stop at nothing to get my child back. Sophie Littlefield did an amazing job evoking all the heartbreaking feelings of fear, desperation, longing and burning need to hold your child in your arms one more time

     Both Shay and Colleen are characters I could easily relate to. They're almost polar opposites - they come from different economical backgrounds, they're personalities are far apart, they think differently and they each struggle with different things in their lives - but amazingly, right from the get go they are a team, they support each other in ways no other two human beings who only just met would ever be able to. And it was such an amazing connection to witness! The character development in The Missing Place is very thorough and well thought out, and serves to further enhance the heartbreak and the drama of this story. The contrasting lives of the two mothers sometimes get in the way, but ultimately their differences make them stronger a team, more powerful and focused. I particularly enjoyed watching them get to know each other.

     While I was aware of the North Dakota oil boom, I was not familiar with the problems surrounding it, particularly the fact that it attracted so many people hoping to make money, and how these people were often times exploited by large, greedy corporations. I really enjoyed reading about the corruption and social injustice, the cover-ups, work accidents and disappearances that either no one cared about, or someone powerful cared about too much for it to ever see the light of the day. It was fascinating and very illuminating, and it definitely added a thought-provoking and disquieting layer to the mystery and the drama

     To me, this is a character driven story, though the mystery is definitely a complex, multi-layer and often times surprising one. All that makes it a very satisfying, profoundly affecting read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone who enjoys deftly plotted, captivating, emotionally powerful stories with a subtle touch of corporate greed to spice it up.


About the Author









Twitter | Goodreads | Website

Sophie's first novel, A BAD DAY FOR SORRY (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Minotaur, 2009) has been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, Barry, and Crimespree awards, and won the Anthony Award and the RTBookReviews Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Mystery. Her novel AFTERTIME was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Horror award.
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Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (Review + Giveaway)


Series:
Standalone
Genre:
Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publication.Date:September 20, 2014
Pages:368 (hardcover)
Published By:  Harlequin Teen
Website:Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:



In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

(Goodreads)



The adults are shaking their head. Behind me Miss Freeman mutters something to Mr. Stern about "setting back the movement."

I have to stop myself from snorting. What business is it of Miss Freeman's, or any of theirs? They weren't in that room with Paulie when it happened. They didn't get detention from the principal for trying to help their friend, like I did yesterday. They aren't getting called names all day by angry white people, like all of us are.
I thought it had to be that way. That I had no choice but to stay quiet, with only my own thoughts to keep me company. I never thought there was any other way to live.

Until I met Linda.
When I was Bobby's age, during the war, there used to be blackouts. I'm too little to really remember it, but Mama told me stories. I used to get so scared I'd cry for hours, walking around the dark house, bumping into things, thinking I saw monsters lurking in every corner.

But I'm not a little girl anymore. The monsters that lurk now are real. And I can't let them see that I'm afraid.


A couple weeks ago I watched Lee Daniels' The Butler and found myself in awe of the way blacks were treated from the 1920-2010. Not only is this an amazing movie, but to watch our history through the eyes of Cecil Gaines is simply fascinating. Not long after this, I was approached to review Lies We Tell Ourselves and knew I couldn't pass up this opportunity to read more about this subject.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is both amazing and heartbreaking. There were many times while I was reading it that Joe would comment on the concerned looks on my face. I couldn't believe some of the things that were happening to these students.

Sarah and nine other students from Johns High School had volunteered to be the first to integrate into Jefferson High School. The school is starting late as the governor closed all the schools that were court ordered to integrate. If that isn't sickening enough, from the very first day these ten students have to face racism and injustice from not only their peers but also some of the teachers.

Paper is thrown at them. Awful words said their way. They are followed and harassed from class to class and once they're in class, all the white students move away from them due to their "smell." They're aren't just treated as lower human beings, they're treated as lower lifeforms. 

While I know that Sarah and Linda are fictional, they're strength is something I cannot but help admire. Sarah goes to Jefferson High everyday, attempting to block out the negative things said and done to her, with her head held high. She is going through what may be the most difficult and horrifying part of her life but she remains strong and knows that what she is doing will change the country for future generations. And despite her daily fear, she continues to fight.

Linda begins the story insisting that the students integrating are instigators and they're the ones at fault for everything. She is a popular white girl whose father runs the local newspaper and promotes segregation with every breath in his body. Slowly, through her interaction with Sarah, Linda begins to show her doubt and uncertainty regarding segregation. It's amazing to see Linda's transformation from somebody who believes "separate but equal" to an individual who learns that skin color has nothing to do with personality. That her black classmates are not lesser than her and her friends, but just as capable and in some cases better than those surrounding her.

The lesbian angle is interesting as well. Not only are these two young girls going against the social norms of blacks and whites, but they are going against their moral/religious ones as well. They acknowledge to themselves that they have feelings for one another, but worry about God's view on their feelings.

While I understand that there are unfortunately still cases of racism and bigotry in today's world, reading about it during a time when the behavior was "normal" and "accepted" really opens your eyes to the fight this group of people went through just to obtain the same rights as white individuals. To see the things people believed in - their black will get on you if you touch them, they're brains don't work the same, they're of lower class and moral fiber - is sickening.

I love Lies We Tell Ourselves. The story is incredibly moving. The characters strong, smart, and real. This isn't just a book about growing up black and white or going to school in a newly integrated school in Virginia, or about being gay in the late 1950s. Lies We Tell Ourselves is about growing up and learning to think for ourselves and not what everybody around us is telling us to think. It's about finding our voice when other try to squash it. It's about standing up for what we believe in, for what is right. It's about friendship and love. And it's something you definitely shouldn't miss out on reading.





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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Falls The Shadow by Stefanie Gaither (Review)

Genre:
Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Publication.Date  September 16th 2014
Pages:352
Published By:  Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers
AuthorStefanie Gaither

Falls The Shadow on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:


When Cate Benson was a kid, her sister, Violet, died. Two hours after the funeral, Cate’s family picked up Violet’s replacement. Like nothing had happened. Because Cate’s parents are among those who decided to give their children a sort of immortality—by cloning them at birth—which means this new Violet has the same smile. The same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all of the same memories as the girl she replaced.

She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.

At least, that’s what the paparazzi and the anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that. She’s used to defending her sister, too. But Violet has vanished, and when Cate sets out to find her, she ends up in the line of fire instead. Because Cate is getting dangerously close to secrets that will rock the foundation of everything she thought was true.

In a thrilling debut, Stefanie Gaither takes readers on a nail-biting ride through a future that looks frighteningly similar to our own time and asks: how far are you willing to go to keep your family together?

(Goodreads)

What should you say to someone you’d known your whole life but were just now meeting for the first time?
And that’s the part that I don’t like thinking about: knowing that there’s a stronger, physically superior version of me just waiting around for me to die.
It’s amazing how you can believe your life is so awful, but then something worse comes along, and suddenly you’d give anything to just have that normal, awful life back.




    Catelyn and Violet were both cloned at birth, their clones raised in a 'controlled environment'. Their parents made copies of their daughters to be on the 'safe side', to have replacements just in case something bad happened to one of them. To be able to swipe a possible tragedy under a rug and pretend it never happened. But a tragedy did happen and Catelyn's older sister got sick and died. And then the replacement took her place, picking up exactly where the other girl left off, with all her memories downloaded neatly to her cloned brain. And life went on. 

But when you want to play God, you need to be prepared for the consequences. And there are bound to be many. 

     Bland writing style, dialogues that are not situation-appropriate, bumpy pacing and narration relying solely on telling instead of showing, Falls The Shadow left me very dissatisfied and sad about its wasted potential. Top it all off with unmemorable, flat characters and what you get is a book that threatens (and, sadly, succeeds) to put you to sleep. 

     Cloning, DNA manipulation and stem cell research are hot and highly intriguing topics, and they are like a shiny treasure chest of ideas for authors interested in exploring darker Science Fiction themes. There is just so much potential there, so many angles one could approach these subjects on, so much depth and food for thought. And after a really promising and exciting prologue, I really believed the author would take these subjects and shape them into a great, interesting story. But though the idea behind the story wasn't bad, the execution of it was lacking in so many areas, the book was rather painful to read. And it pains me to admit that, I actually had to force myself to keep turning pages.

     The first third of the story serves no purpose other than providing a back story to the conflict. We learn next to nothing about the characters and their personalities (other that that Catelyn is "an invisible wallflower" and Violet is a troublemaker and kind of rebel), we have no idea what is the core of the plot line, we witness no significant action. And worst of all, even the backstory is served in a really bad and boring fashion - in form of a long monologue. The science is missing from this Science Fiction book, the ideas thrown at us have no scientific grounding. They seem purely fictional and it's hard to take them seriously. 

     There isn't a whole lot of action in this book. Instead, the pages are filled mostly with dialogues between Catelyn, Jaxton and Seth. Dialogues that are very juvenile and really kind of pointless. Whatever action is thrown into the mix is too little, too uninteresting and too far between to help move the plot along. That would have been fine if the book had some substance, something to keep the reader engaged on either intellectual or emotional level, but there really isn't anything there. I didn't care one bit about any of the characters, least of all Violet (the clone), who is, for the most part, talked about and not present in person. The conflict between those pro and anti cloning movement took the backseat to silly teenage interactions. And, most of all, the moral and ethical aspects of cloning itself weren't explored at all.

     Overall, while certainly readable, Falls The Shadow is rather forgettable and uninspired. It's not the worst Science Fiction I have ever read, but it isn't really a story I'll be thinking about or returning to in the future. It's merely pleasant enough to kill a few hours on a long Fall evening.

     On a side note, if you're looking for a good Science Fiction novel revolving around the subject of DNA manipulation and "growing" humans in laboratories, I recommend The Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell or Lost Girl by Sangu Mandana. They are both more thought-provoking takes on the ethical and moral aspects of cloning, as well as what it means to be human.


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Top Ten Tuesday: In with the New

Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and The Bookish

"New" Unread Series

Most of you know about my goal to finish/catch up the series I'm currently in them middle of before starting new series. These select series are the ones that I'm most excited to start once I accomplish this goal. I chose series where the first book was published after October 21, 2012 - so two years or newer.

  
    
  

Have you read any of these yet? Which ones should I move to the top of my TBR pile? Which new series are you looking forward to starting? Be sure to leave me a link to your list!
  
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