Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review: Never Let You Go

Never Let You Go
By Chevy Stevens
Published: March 14, 2017

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.
Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?
With Never Let You Go, Chevy Stevens delivers a chilling, twisting thriller that crackles with suspense as it explores the darkest heart of love and obsession.

My review:

Never Let You Go is a fast paced suspense novel with some unexpected twists but it didn't have much in the way of character development and I had one major issue with it. My review contains minor spoilers that have nothing to do with the main plot of the story but are relevant to my thoughts on the book.

The story alternates between the past, showing Lindsey's early relationship and marriage to Andrew as well as the present. It is written initially from the viewpoint of Lindsey but later adds her daughter Sophie's voice to the narrative. Sophie was still a young child when her dad went to prison and that is reflected in the way she views him. Her mom sees Andrew as a threat while Sophie wants to give him a chance. Andrew may have been a nightmare to Lindsey but he was loving to Sophie and that affects her memories of him which could be frustrating.

I felt bad for Lindsey during her marriage to Andrew and was glad she'd found a way out and was doing well with her business but I did have some issues with her behavior regarding a romantic relationship where she was very trusting. Given what was happening with Andrew being out of prison and the escalating strange incidents, it was weird that she was so trusting. In contrast she was not so trusting of Sophie's love interest. While I enjoyed the page turning action of the book and wanted to know what would happen next, I was annoyed by Sophie's behavior at times--how bratty she could be and the decisions she made regarding her father. 

What really bothered me though was a scene of what could be considered rape between two of the characters that was never dealt with. The characters in question were inebriated and high and there was no consent given. She isn't sure of what she wants but she is too out of it to say anything and afterwards she thinks "I guess I must have wanted it, but I don't remember." Later she is upset by what happened but puts all the blame on herself because she was drunk. I thought the way it was described really muddied the waters regarding consent. Note: No other reviews I've read on Goodreads or Amazon mentioned this so maybe I'm just being sensitive but according to RAINN, consent does not look like "Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol".

I also wished for more depth to the characters. I didn't feel like I got to know Lindsey or see her change in any way. I found it difficult to connect with the characters. Even the villain was one dimensional. In some ways this is the book equivalent of an action movie/popcorn flick. I liked that I didn't anticipate everything that happened  and I thought it was suitably suspenseful but the story was problematic and could have delivered more on character development.

Note: I received an ARC for review courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Post (83) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

It's hard to believe that spring is almost here. It certainly doesn't seem that way according to the weather!

Not much happened this past week though my library had an Irish music concert for St. Patrick's Day at a local coffee shop. This week should be pretty quiet and this coming weekend I'll be visiting my parents. My sister and her husband will also be there Saturday for lunch. I haven't seen them since Christmas so that will be nice.

Last week on my blog:

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (review)

Books read:

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

I liked this creative retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I will hopefully have my review written soon.

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

I don't usually read suspense (I prefer mystery) and while I kind of guessed some of what was going on, I still found it to be a really gripping read and at the most suspenseful point I wanted to put my Kindle in the freezer (I didn't--though I did wait for daylight to finish the book). 

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to hearing what the other book group members thought of it. It kind of reminded me of Water for Elephants but instead of focusing on life in the circus, it was all about vaudeville. Fascinating stuff and there is even a cameo appearance by a young Cary Grant though I didn't catch it till after I finished reading and read the author's notes.

Currently reading:

Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey

Currently listening to:

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

On my TBR pile:

It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany

This sounds like a pretty dark book but I have read some positive reviews and I liked one of her other novels so I thought I'd give it a try.

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

I am really looking forward to reading this as it is inspired by You've Got Mail, one of my favorite romantic comedies.

Starfall by Melissa Landers

I loved Starflight but I'm a little worried that this won't be as good because of mixed reviews I've seen as well as the fact that Cassia and Kane are the main characters instead of Solara and Doran.

The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff

New books received:

The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth (library book)

The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger (library book)

The Nearness of You by Amanda Eyre Ward (library book)

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly (library book)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: Daughter of the Pirate King

Daughter of the Pirate King
By Tricia Levenseller
Published: February 28, 2017

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

My review:

I am a fan of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie (though I've also watched the later films) and I've enjoyed some of the other YA pirate fiction I've read so I was eager to give this a try and it didn't disappoint.

Alosa is the daughter of the self proclaimed "pirate king" but she is a pirate in her own right with her own ship and a nearly all-female crew of trusted friends. When her dad gives her the task of infiltrating a rival pirate's ship to get a piece of a treasure map, she lets herself get caught so she can find the map. She figures it will be an easy task though she has to hide her real skills from her captors. What she wasn't planning on is Riden, the first mate and loyal younger brother of the captain, who suspects she is up to something. 

Alosa is intelligent and brave and a good leader. She is also perhaps a little too loyal to her father who doesn't sound like the greatest dad. Alosa is a confident and skilled pirate but she struggles with her heritage and she wants to prove herself to her dad. Riden is also a capable but unusually kind pirate (he doesn't enjoy killing) and more than a match for Alosa's antics. I liked the development of their relationship as the story progressed. The secondary characters are also interesting though I wanted to know more about Alosa's crew than the glimpses that we got. I think that will change in the second book.

Daughter of the Pirate King is a fun historical fantasy/adventure novel on the high seas. I think fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and pirate fiction would enjoy this. It is a page turner with humor, romance, a little bit of fantasy and some unexpected twists. I am eagerly looking forward to the sequel.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's theme is "Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR".

These are just a few of the books I'm looking forward to reading this spring. The first two are the ones I'm most excited about.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey Moore

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Refuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday Post (82) / It's Monday, WAYR

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Just when it seemed like spring weather was going to stick around for awhile we are back to winter. Thursday night we got a couple inches of snow and this Monday we are supposed to get 1-3 inches. Thankfully the roads are good and it does look pretty but that wind is so cold. Last Wednesday evening there were some power outages in the town where I work due to wind damage. Both the local Walmart and grocery store didn't have power but operated on a generator (though both stores lost all their produce, frozen and refrigerated products) and several other businesses including fast food chains were closed the next day.  The library lost power after hours on Wednesday night but we had power on Thursday though it did affect some of our technology.

On Friday I attended a programming meeting with librarians from other libraries. I got a few good ideas including a lead on a Star Wars author (nonfiction) for our Comic Con this summer. I hope that will pan out. 

Saturday was supposed to be my first swimming lesson but it was cancelled due to a swim meet. Unfortunately the Y neglected to inform me. I only found out because I called them on Friday evening to confirm the start time of the class. I was not happy but thankfully I didn't pay for the classes yet. They were supposed to call me back to let me know if there would be a makeup class but they didn't. I am not happy with their level of professionalism and we'll see if there is a class next Saturday. The silver lining is that I have been struggling with sinus issues again so maybe it is a good thing to not try swimming right now!

This Friday the library is holding an Irish music concert at our local coffee shop. Hopefully we'll have decent attendance though I found out recently that the town is having a St. Patrick's Day themed pub crawl on the same night.

Last week on my blog:

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley (review)

Books read:

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

I ended up liking this one more than the first book. I liked the character development and the mystery wasn't as easy for me to solve. 

The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore

I originally started out listening to the audio book version of this novel but ended up returning it as I felt like I was missing too much of the story while driving. It was the perfect book to read before St. Patrick's Day. I learned more about Irish history during the early 20th century and some of the events were a little familiar to me because of Branson on Downton Abbey. I'm eagerly anticipating the second book. I have to admit that Bridie annoyed me though. 

Currently reading:

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

I am looking forward to watching the new Beauty and the Beast but while I wait, I am enjoying this retelling. I like that it includes Russian folklore. 

On my TBR pile:

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

I started reading this before deciding to pick up Hunted first instead. I liked what I read though I usually don't go for thrillers. My coworkers are huge fans of Chevy Stevens though I don't think I will be.

The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff

I have heard a lot of good things about this book and hopefully I will like it though I know it will be tough subject matter like The Nightingale

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay

This is my evening book group's selection for March. I am really looking forward to it. A couple of our members have already read it and loved it.

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

My afternoon book group is reading this for our March book. I really liked the movie (and the real Bob was in it as himself--isn't he cute?) so I'm curious to see how faithful it was to the book.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

I've had this checked out from the library for months and I can't renew it so if I'm going to read it, I have to get to it soon.

New books received:

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett (for review)

It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany (for review)

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen (library book)

Starfall by Melissa Landers (library book)

Always by Sarah Jio (library book)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review: Close Enough to Touch

Close Enough to Touch 
By Colleen Oakley
Published: March 7, 2017

Love has no boundaries...

Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition: she’s allergic to human touch. After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years. But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job. It’s there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son. Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can't understand why she keeps him at arm's length. So Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer, setting into motion the most unlikely love story of the year.

My review:

Jubilee hasn't left her house since she almost died as a teen when a boy kissed her on a dare. Since that time her mom has gotten married and moved away (Jubilee was invited to live with them but didn't want to go). Jubilee relies on monthly checks sent by her mom and she uses online shopping and other methods to avoid leaving the house or dealing with other people. Then she gets a phone call from her stepfather that her mother has died, leaving her the house but the monthly checks will stop. Now Jubilee has to find a way to support herself. When she finally plucks up the courage to leave her home, a chance meeting with a former classmate leads to a job at the library. 

Eric has his own issues to deal with--namely his estranged teenage daughter won't talk to him and his smart adopted son has some behavioral issues. When he takes his son to the library one day, his path crosses with Jubilee. He is intrigued by her and her Halloween costume (it was Halloween day and she was dressed as Emily Dickinson). She makes an instant connection with Eric's son Aja and slowly their lives intersect.

I felt bad for Jubilee and her sad relationship with her mother as well as her circumstances. It takes her awhile to overcome her fears but it seems to go deeper than just a fear of accidental contact. It's like she used that as an excuse to shut herself off emotionally from others but slowly that begins to change through her new job and tentative new friendships. She and Aja seemed to understand each other well which is a good thing since Eric was kind of lousy at communicating with his kids (but at least he kept trying). 

The romance developed slowly and obviously had some major obstacles but for those worried about a happy ending, don't worry--the story does end on a high note. It isn't exactly realistic but maybe that's a good thing. There has been a woman in the news in recent months who is deathly allergic to her husband and parents and a whole host of things so she has to live in a carefully sanitized environment. I hope and pray that there will be a cure for her one day.  I couldn't help but think of her as I read this book. Close Enough to Touch also reminded me of  a grownup version of the YA novel Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon which told the story of a teen who couldn't leave her house due to life threatening allergies. The ending of that book was different from this one but it also explored the choices of a young woman who is restricted by her health. Overall I liked Close Enough to Touch and prefer it to the author's debut, Before I Go.

Note: For those wondering, I thought the author did a pretty good job of portraying what it's like to work in a small public library.

I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday Post (81) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

It was a quiet week with more crazy weather changes. On Tuesday my book discussion groups met but unfortunately I wasn't able to finish either book though I definitely plan to finish A Gentleman in Moscow at a later date. Several of my evening book group members said that was their favorite book we've read in the years we've been meeting.

This Tuesday I am going to the eye doctor for the first time in my life for a basic checkup and on Saturday I will be starting swimming lessons at the local Y (I never learned as a kid). I am somewhat excited about the swimming lessons since learning to swim is on my bucket list and it would be handy to know how before the Mexico trip.  I am also a little nervous about it. My sister told me she doesn't know how to swim but that hasn't stopped her from enjoying beach vacations and snorkeling or parasailing. She is a braver soul than I!

Last week on my blog:

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan (review)

Books read:

The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack

It was interesting learning more about Walter Scott. I still need to write my review but hopefully it will be up later this week or next week.

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

While I thought the book ended kind of abruptly, I really enjoyed it. Alosa is a fun character and the book is a fun pirate adventure that reminded me a little of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Books listened to:

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore (reread)

I enjoyed listening to this again and I can't wait to read the sequel, The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues. I just got an ARC and plan to read it later this spring.

Currently reading:

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

So far this book is kind of slow and not really holding my attention. If it doesn't pick up soon, I may set it aside to read something else first.

Currently listening to:

The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore

I have heard so many good things about this book so I decided to use one of my Audible credits to purchase the audio book version. I like it so far but I also feel like I may be missing some things since I am listening to it while I drive. Also I feel really sorry for Kitty. Her mom is terrible and her dad may be kinder but he isn't much better.

On my TBR list:

The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff

I just read another glowing review of this one so I decided to put it on my list for this week. It covers darker subject matter so we'll see if I'm in the mood to tackle it yet.

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

I still haven't read any of Chevy Stevens's books though my coworkers love them. I don't read a lot of suspense but I thought this sounded kind of good.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

I enjoy fairy tale retellings and this one (inspired by Beauty and the Beast) is set in Russia which also intrigues me. 

New books received:

The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey Moore (for review)

Hunted by Meagan Spooner (for review)

Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey (for review)

No Other World by Rahul Mehta (for review)

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (for review)

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (library book)

The Dry by Jane Harper (library book)

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay (library book)

The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore (Audible)