This Little Piggy by Bea Davenport Review

this piggyGenre: Mystery, Crime Fiction

Judging the Cover:  I chose this book based on the cover and title, it has a dark and creepy feel to it which goes well with the story. I also love the font of this book.

Plot from Goodreads: It’s the summer of 1984 and there is a sense of unease on the troubled Sweetmeadows estate. The residents are in shock after the suspicious death of a baby and tension is growing due to the ongoing miners’ strike. Journalist Clare Jackson follows the story as police botch the inquiry and struggle to contain the escalating violence. Haunted by a personal trauma she can’t face up to, Clare is shadowed by nine-year-old Amy, a bright but neglected little girl who seems to know more about the incident than she’s letting on. As the days go on and the killer is not found, Clare ignores warnings not to get too close to her stories and in doing so, puts her own life in jeopardy.

My Thoughts: I found this story to be very enjoyable. The characters were great and I learned a lot about the miners’ strike in the UK. I never found myself “glued” to the story but I never found myself bored with it either.

The Good: This story takes place during the UK miners’ strike in 1984, which I had never heard of. Learning about that time period was extremely interesting to me. I loved the characters of Clare and Amy and the relationship that they had. The story is a murder mystery that follows Clare, a journalist, which was unusual…instead of trying to solve the crime, Clare was documenting what was happening. I enjoyed this perspective, it was a nice change from the usual police procedural novels.

The Not So Good: Unfortunately, I was able to figure things out before they were revealed. I live for the shock factor in books and this one didn’t have it. There weren’t any moments that had me on the edge of my seat.

My Rating: I rated this book 3/5 stars and would recommend it for anyone who is a fan of crime fiction.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Still Life in Shadows by Alice J. Wisler Review

Still lifeGenre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary

Judging the Cover: I like the gray scale tone of the cover and the image of the Amish buggy but I am not a fan of people on covers facing the camera head on.

The Plot: Gideon Miller ran away from his Amish life in Pennsylvania 15 years ago and now works as a mechanic and lives in North Carolina. He is well known in the Amish community as someone who helps those who wish to leave get on their feet in the “English” world. Gideon harbors a lot of bitterness towards his past life and finds himself confronted with his past issues when his brother, Moriah shows up in his town. Gideon also forms a friendship with a waitress at a diner named Mari and her younger autistic sister Kiki, who are able to break through his hard exterior. Along the way, Gideon learns about forgiveness and letting go of the past.

My Thoughts: This was not a typical Christian fiction Amish story. I’ve read many Amish fiction books and have always felt that they tend to romanticize and sugar coat the Amish lifestyle. This book depicts some Amish people to be legalistic, abusive, and set in their ways. I did feel at times that the author was not showing the “other side” of the Amish, that they can be kind and gentle, but I appreciated her honesty in showing that they are not perfect people. I found this book to be slow moving and boring at times but the ending was well done.

The Good: I appreciated that the author ended the story in a realistic way. I also liked Kiki’s character, she was funny and had an innocent quality that was very endearing. I liked the romance in the story as it had a slow, natural progression that was very sweet.

The Not So Good: The writing style felt a bit disjointed at times and the character development wasn’t gradual, it seemed to occur overnight. I also didn’t agree when it was stated that Kiki was autistic. I work in schools and know and work with many children with autism and I didn’t feel that Kiki had any of the typical characteristics that go with the diagnosis (with the exception of saying what she’s thinking without thinking it through first). It was a difficult book to get into and I found it boring at times.

My Rating: I decided to give this book 2 1/2 out of 5 stars because I did enjoy seeing the “other side of the coin” when it came to the Amish life but I didn’t find it very enjoyable.

I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova Review

still aliceGenre: Adult fiction, Contemporary

Judging the Cover: I love the simplicity of this cover. The butterfly is a significant part of the story.

The Plot: The story is about Alice Howland, who, at the age of 50, is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. The reader follows Alice as she deals with this devastating news and witnesses how this disease affects a person.

My thoughts: This book was picked for my book club and I probably would have never read it otherwise because of the plot. I worked for 3 years in an Alzheimer’s Unit at a nursing home as an activities’ assistant and I saw firsthand how sad this disease is. I saw a 100 year old woman ask where her grandma was, I still smile when I think about a woman who very seldom spoke but would often sing old hymns, and I witnessed many people lose their battle with this disease and go to their final resting place. All that being said, I was very surprised by this book, as it shows what happens in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s Disease (the people I worked with were in the late stages). I had no idea about early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, I always associated it with the elderly. But, as I found out, the signs can present themselves to someone in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. I was glad that I read this book despite my initial reluctance, it was very eye opening. This is definitely a book that will cause tears and that will be thought about long after the last sentence is read.

The Good: The writing style of this book was very easy to read, which was a relief to me, as it was written by a Harvard trained neuroscientist. This book spreads awareness of this horrible disease and recognizes the importance of finding a cure. It also reminds us that people with Alzheimer’s disease are still people, that they still have opinions and feelings and that they still deserve respect. I also liked that the book focused on Alice’s husband and children and how the disease affected them.

The Not So Good: My only wish was that the book would have been written in first person instead of third person, or a dual narrative between first and third. I think it may have been more powerful to have Alice narrate the story.

My Rating: I gave this book 5/5 stars, it was an amazing read and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes Review

GR Until youre mineGenre: Psychological Thriller, Adult Fiction

Judging the Cover: The cover doesn’t really grab me. I don’t really feel that it represents the story well and I wouldn’t buy the book solely based on this cover.

The Plot from Goodreads: Claudia Morgan-Brown finally has it all. Pregnant with a much-wanted first baby, she has a happy family of two young stepsons and a loving husband. When Claudia hires Zoe to help her around the house in anticipation of the baby’s arrival, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But there’s something about her that Claudia cannot trust. Moreover, there’s been a series of violent attacks on pregnant women in the area, and Claudia becomes acutely aware of her vulnerability. With her husband out of town for work, who will be there to protect her? And why does she still feel so unsettled about Zoe? Realizing appearances can be deceiving even in the seemingly perfect world, Claudia digs deeper into Zoe’s blurry past and begins to wonder-how far would someone go to have a child of her own?

About the author: You can learn more about Samantha Hayes here.

My thoughts-The plot of this story is very intriguing to me…a pregnant woman with a mysterious nanny. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons of this book to the movie “The Hand that Rocks The Cradle” due to the “creepy nanny” storyline, but this book and the movie are very different. (This book would make an amazing movie though!)

The good: This book had everything I love in a good psychological thriller…an interesting plot, complex characters, and a jaw-dropping twist. The author is very good at slowly revealing small details, enough to make the reader feel the need to keep reading to find out more. The twist at the end of this book me away! It’s up there with the big twist from “Gone Girl” as the most shocking. I had to take a moment to digest what I had read and rethink the whole story.  The last sentence was also a shocker.

The Not So Good: There were times when the characters in this book made stupid decisions and it became very frustrating. I also felt like the book focused a bit too much on the detectives’ daughter, who wasn’t relevant to the main story. This is definitely not a book for pregnant women. There are some graphic scenes that may be very upsetting to someone who is expecting.

My rating: Throughout the book, I was planning to rate this 4/5 stars…and then the big twist occurred and it had to be a 5 star book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of psychological thrillers, it’s definitely worth a read!

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

Doctor Death by Lene Kaaberbol Review

Doctor DeathI won this book from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. It is published by Atria Books and will be on sale on February 17, 2015.

Genre: Medical Thriller, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Crime Fiction

Judging the Cover: I originally thought the cover was decent but as I type this, I see that there is an image of a wolf on the right side of the picture, which makes me like it a lot more. I wish the wolf was easier to see because it’s a great image and tends to blend in too much.

The Plot: Madeleine Karno is a 20 year old young lady who lives with her father in France in 1894. She loves to assist her father who is a forensic doctor, and when a young girl is found dead in the snow, she helps him unravel the mystery associated with her death.

My thoughts: I went into this book blind. I had zero expectations and no idea what the book would be about. What I discovered was an extremely interesting story with a lot of surprises.

The Good: The setting of 19th century France was perfect. I could really imagine the clothing and places that were described thanks to the descriptive imagery. I also loved the main character, Madeleine. She was unwilling to conform to societies’ expectations on how a woman should act in that time period. There were some twists that I didn’t expect, which is always something that I love. The storyline was also extremely interesting and I really liked seeing how crimes were investigated in the 1800s.

The Bad: There are some explicit sexual scenes (I mean VERY explicit) that just aren’t my cup of tea. The ending felt a bit rushed and I was still a bit confused about some of the things that happened in the story and how they all connected and came together.

My rating: All in all, this was a great story that was very unique. I rated it 4/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys crime fiction, medical thrillers and historical fiction.

Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith Review

solitaryThis is book 2 of the Escape from The Furnace Series, so I won’t be able to share a lot about this book as I don’t  want to give away spoilers.

Genre: Horror, Young Adult

Judging the Cover: This cover really represents the story well…I also picture Alex, the main character to look similar to the guy on the cover.

My thoughts: I hate to say it but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first one. I felt like it kind of dragged in the middle and was a bit repetitive.

The good: The setting is great and the mystery of the story kept me interested.

The bad: The pacing seemed a bit slow and I still don’t feel like I know the characters very well.

My rating: This was an average read for me, I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it so I gave it 3/5 stars. I’m still continuing the story, I have to find out what happens!

The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel Review

forgotten girlsThank you to Grand Central Publishing and Netgalley for an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Judging the cover: I was really drawn to this cover, I love the font and the title as well as the eerie image of a girl in the woods. Thumbs up to this one!

Genre: This is a Scandinavian police procedural adult novel that takes place in Denmark. It could also be classified as a mystery.

Plot from Goodreads: In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick–the new commander of the Missing Persons Department–is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed–and hidden–in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed.

My thoughts: I was very excited to read this book based on the synopsis and the cover of the book. I am fascinated by stories that involve institutions, so this sounded like it was right up my alley. Unfortunately, I was disappointed for the first 70% of the book. It didn’t really get interesting to me until the last 30% , but when it picked up, I became completely engrossed in the story.

The good: The ending of this book was amazing! I was unable to figure out the “culprit” of the story, which is always a good thing because I love to be surprised. The ending was very chilling and I can’t stop thinking about it. Even though this was book 7 of a series, the author did a good job at bringing the reader up to speed with what was happening in the main character’s life.

The Not So Good: Because this book was translated, I think some things just didn’t carry through the story well. The story is set in Denmark and a lot of places and unusual (to Americans) names were mentioned, which made it very hard to keep track of who they were talking about and where they were going. I also felt the pacing of the book was very slow and it could have been edited a bit more as some things in the story didn’t seem relevant (but could possibly be relevant to the series, which I haven’t read). I didn’t feel like the story focused enough on the missing girls and focused too much on the personal lives of the main characters. I also didn’t really feel like I was able to connect with any of the characters. I was bored with the first 3/4 of this book.

My rating: I had to really think about my rating because I had so many problems with the first 3/4 of it but then the last quarter blew me away. I ended up rating it 3/5 stars and would recommend it to people who enjoy police procedural books.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins review

6936382So after reading some dark and disturbing books, I knew that it was time for me to pick up something sugary and sweet. Enter Anna and The French Kiss.

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Romance

Judging the Cover: I think I’m in the minority based on what I’ve heard, but I really like this cover. I love the font used, the colors,  and the blurred image of the Eiffel Tower in the background. I do think it would have been better if “Anna’s” face was cropped off and only their shoulders and arms were visible. I own the paperback copy and it even has french flaps with scalloped edges…so cute!

Plot: Anna’s dad is making her attend a boarding school for Americans in Paris for her senior year of high school. When Anna arrives, she makes friends and meets a dreamy boy named Etienne St. Clair. The only problem is….Etienne has a girlfriend.

My thoughts: I have mixed feelings about this book. It is a very fun and entertaining story but the cheating aspect of it is disappointing.

The good: The writing style is excellent, it is a very quick and easy read. Anna was a likeable character and it was fun seeing Paris through her eyes. I was so thankful for the absence of insta-love in this story. The romance develops VERY slowly and I appreciate that. Anna and Etienne develop a great friendship throughout the book and it evoked memories of high school and the excitement of being with someone who makes your heart flutter. There were a few twists and surprises that I didn’t see coming, which made the story more interesting.

The bad: Cheating. I strongly believe that even developing an emotional relationship with someone can be cheating and that is what occurred in this book. It was clear from early on that Etienne and Anna had feelings for each other and at that point, Etienne should have ended his relationship. It just seems to send the wrong message to teenage girls.

My rating: I had a lot of trouble rating this book as I found it very entertaining and fun but I had some issues with it, so I came to the rating of 3/5 stars. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a cute, lighthearted contemporary read.

Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith Review

lockdownThe Plot from Goodreads: Furnace Penitentiary: An underground hellhole. A place of pure evil with walls soaked in blood. Murderous gangs and vicious guards rule the darkness. Horrific creatures steal people away in the dead of night. And the impossible – escape – is the only hope.

Genre: Young adult, Horror, Science Fiction

Series: This is book 1 of a 5 book series

My Thoughts: I would NEVER want to go to Furnace! The story is about Alex, who has been sent to Furnace, an underground prison for teenage boys. He meets his new roommate, Donovan and makes a friend named Zee. Things at Furnace are very hard and scary. Survival is not easy.

The good: The author’s descriptions are very detailed so that the reader is able to very clearly see Furnace. The story had action non-stop from the first page to the last. The pacing is great and the writing style is very easy to get into.

The Not So Good: The book has a lot of unanswered questions but it is book 1 of a 5 book series so I’m sure everything will be resolved eventually. I didn’t feel like I got to know the characters as much as I would have liked. The main character, Alex, drove me crazy with some of his choices.  The book ended with a huge cliffhanger, which may be a negative for some people but I’m planning on reading the second book soon, so it’s not really a negative for me.

My rating: 4/5 stars. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a creepy story that is a bit bizarre.

Hades by Candice Fox Review

hadesI received an e-arc of this book from Netgalley.

Genre: Adult crime fiction

The plot from Goodreads: A serial killer is at large and he has found a way to gain something from the murders. Frank Bennett is starting a new job as a homicide detective and he and his new partner, Eden Archer are on the case. There is something mysterious about Eden and her brother Eric as Frank quickly begins to realize.

My thoughts: This is one of those books that is best to go into without knowing a lot. The story is complex and it jumps between past and present. It has mystery, suspense, and a bit of romance. There are some moments that were similar to the Dexter television series…if you like Dexter, chances are that you would love this. There are some graphic scenes so it may not be for everyone.

The good: This was what I would classify as an “unputdownable” book and I found myself thinking about the story when I wasn’t able to read it. I loved the serial killer storyline and was very interested in the reasons that the murders were occurring. It was an interesting and thought provoking look at what people would do out of desperation. I really liked the characters in the story, they felt very real and were well developed. I also loved the writing style…the pacing was great and it was a very easy story to slip into.

The Not So Good: The only thing that I disliked about the book was the romance angle…I felt like it was forced and had an insta-love feel to it. It just didn’t seem necessary to the plot.

My rating: I gave this book 4 1/2 stars and would absolutely recommend this to anyone who loves mystery and suspense stories.