Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Fated Memories by Joan Carney

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"Adversity builds strength. You just need to trust yourself enough to use it."

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Fated Memories is a beautiful story of two girls finding the love of their lives, friendship, and time travel. I was a little nervous at first since I tend to have a hard time really getting into war stories. However, Carney took a twist off the girls' perspective in the hospital. Simon, Kitty, and Maggie struggle to fit in as best as they can. Between trying to prevent any "butterfly effects" and Kitty getting sent to the psych ward because of her potty mouth. Simon goes to work in the Army and the girls busy themselves with the injured trying to adjust to 1861 medicine and not giving away to much modern day medical practices.

The Characters where great! I loved that Carney made Kitty a real bad ass. In the beginning she was coming off very poor me and everyone take care of me and I thought "oh boy this is going to be a long book." But once she made up her mind, everyman knew not to mess with her nor Maggie or they would end up in pain on the ground. Its not very often you see a strong woman as men are so well known for being great protectors. Simon was quite the gentleman, I'm still confused about where his memories came from. Maggie was the best friend and spouse. Even I know that it can be difficult balancing friends and a new relationship but she executed that perfectly -- I'm quite jealous.

In a long string of events - while getting dressed for Kitty's wedding - the girls realize this was always their destiny. Carney wove together a beautiful story and I will definitely be recommending this one!

My rating: 5 out 5 stars

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

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"As I head up from the gym it strikes me how strange people are. You can see them every day - you can think you know them - and then you find out you hardly know them at all"

This book was recommended to me by my stepdaughter -- I guess reading this book was a reminder to me that she is not such a little girl anymore. *tear

Well I knew getting into this story was going to be the same story over and over and over and over. I think Oliver did an ok job of adding little things in for each day so that you kept getting a different piece of everyone and got to feel closer Sam as she discovered more about herself and more about others.

I do fully acknowledge that bullying is a problem so don't attack me for this next statement. I felt like Sam's "bullying" was taken to a whole new extreme and was made unrealistic. Now I know that girls are great at ganging up on each other and one week one girl is getting left out and the next week the table has turned and a different girl is being excluded with rumors flying through the school. Now when I was growing up that happened all the time and we just had to power through (not saying that it was ok). But Oliver draws up this scene with Sam and another girl in the hallway where the girl is asking Sam to talk to the teacher and make it right. I felt like Sam's reaction was way off from what would of happened. When I picture what I would have done or other girls who have ganged up on my stepdaughter would have done, I just see them walking away and rolling their eyes or saying "not my problem" instead, Sam went into all kinds of unlikely conversations bits. And I felt like this was happening throughout the book.

"you can't go home again - isn't necessarily that places change, but that people do. So nothing ever looks the same" I absolutely loved this!! As we get older and mature perspectives change.

I was not expecting the ending. After all her maturing and grasping reality I was convinced that she was eventually going to come out of this very strong. I was speechless about the ending and I think it actually ruined the book for me.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars.

First Offense by Marti Green

"She fervently hoped that the facilities she'd read about were anomalies, a few bad detentions centers out of thousands across the country that worked well. But she expected that wasn't the case. She also suspected that as more and more states moved to private, for profit, prisons, both for juveniles and adults, the abuses would increase."

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review thanks to NetGally.*

So many heart strings have been pulled throughout reading this book. Before being a stay at home mom, I was a Paralegal, so with following Dani through her ambition to help Frankie I was very excited to see where the story was going. However, I was strongly reminded how corrupt the legal system can be. Going through college and working in the environment, my mind always thinks of the legal system screwing over adults and rescuing children from abusive parents or sex trafficking circles. I never envisioned that so much corruption could be destroying childrens' lives as well. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of pain and frustration Green must have been feeling as she did her research for this great story.

First Offense is about Frankie, 12 years old, getting thrown into the justice system over trying to fit in at a new school once again by flaunting a couple joints of marijuana. His punishment is sever considering its his first offense and he has a history of being a straight A student. After a couple of months in the juvenile detention center, Frankie is beaten so bad he is sent to the hospital and is in such fear of his life... runs. Then begins the grand story of keeping him safe and away from the facility that is full of teenagers who should of never been there thanks to the corrupt judge.

I really enjoyed the plot except I felt like the book was wrapping up and coming to a close about halfway through. Green took too big of a section in the middle of the book to "fill some gaps" that really drug out the story. It was nice to know what happen to the characters but I think the events should have been broken up a bit so it didn't feel like there was a conclusion in the middle of the book.

There was some frustrating parts for me since I have a legal background. I found that the author was trying to discretely explain legal terms: "ACOD. Dani didn't have to explain to Tommy that it meant adjournment in contemplation of dismissal"  I guess it could be nice for readers who don't have any experience in the law or who have never picked up a book that dealt with a courtroom setting -- but I guess that what Google is for too. I tried to be ok with Green explaining terms like this until I came across her explaining to me what FIFA was -- I don't live under a rock.

I found myself acting like a football fan on Football Sunday, yelling at the screen wondering what in the world Frank's first attorney was thinking-- I guess ignorance really is bliss. If I was Frank's mother, he probably would have been sued for negligence. For example, Franky was being accused of starting fights and then getting his butt whooped by the older kids... one look at his knuckles would have easily ruled that out (with a doctor's testimony of course) as there was no physical "damage" done to his knuckles. I felt like this simple explanation would of saved Frankie a lot of trouble - why would this not be brought up? And what attorney watches a BS conviction and then advisees the mother to not continue with an appeal and allow her child to go to juvy, especially after the father has just gone MIA?!?!

Overall I was very drawn into the book. It was well written and I would recommend it to a friend. It is obvious that Green did a lot of research and I love how she brought it to life.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Friday, April 22, 2016

Forever Together by Jade Whitfield

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. My first impression of this book from the blurb was that it was going to be a great book. After a few chapters in I hated it. Here I was reading a story of twenty year olds that were still acting like they were in junior high. I was so annoyed with Brady, one of the main characters, the only thing that kept me going into the book was Liv's nasty little sarcastic comments to him. I loved how she despised him because that's exactly how I was feeling about him. Then, about a fourth of the way through the book I caught myself laughing out loud. Then before I knew it I was literally laughing out loud at every corner of this book.

This is a story of a girl who returns home for summer break and is determined to continue avoiding everyone, from her ex boyfriend to her best friend (Liv). While away at college for six months that was really easy, she soon realizes that it is not going to be so easy now that she is back at home. Before she knows it, she is caught up between helping her best friend plan her wedding and trying to convince herself that she doesn't want to be back together with Brady; while he, on the other hand, is doing everything he can think of to show her they are sole mates.

So, like I said, Whitfield presents us with these really immature characters. First, we have Cindy, who is going around and using phrases like "guy who starts with B" (not wanting to use Brady's name). I get it its only been six months since they broke up and she is still heartbroken by him but really your twenty not sixteen. Then there is Brady. He's going around using terms like "my boy" and "good in the hood". All I can picture in my head is my 14 year old ex, who's like the whitest boy I know, trying to be all gangster with his pants sagging and wannabe badass jock attitude, but everyone really knows how pathetic he is. Then add a little bit of metrosexual to him with his fancy little puppy and I'm about to loose my mind over how annoying this guy is. Thank God the author threw in Liv who was able to keep me interested with constantly putting this boy in his place.

In Brady's determination to win back Cindy's heart, they go through a lot of different adventures. All of which have me laughing out loud. Then, Cindy gets herself and her friends arrested while out for a bachelorette party and I was laughing so hard I was crying.  Whitfield did a great job of building up my emotions about why they broke up in the first place that I was begging her to just tell me already. Sadly, when I finally get the answer, I was disappointed -- just not as much drama as I was hoping for. Other than the build up around why they split up, the plot is really simple. There wasn't really anything out of the ordinary; boy likes girl, girl likes boy - boy acts like an idiot and has to make it up to the girl. Normally stories like this aren't told with a sense of humor so that was a nice change.

By the end of the book, the characters seem to be finally be shedding their last bits of "teenagerism" and we see them becoming adults that will hopefully be able to have a functioning relationship beyond all the sex. We see as Cindy puts on her big girl panties and confronting little issues that never had to be made into a bigger issues - and she starts picking up bits of Liv's attitude. I find myself wanting to congratulate Cindy on finally being able to stand up for herself. Plus of course Brady. He is also able to redeem himself between Caitlyn Jenner jokes (thank you Whitfield!!!) and throwing an even bigger 'dickwad' into dumpsters. He learns how to treat a woman and brings himself to man up and give her what she wants instead of only what he wants. I would recommend this book to people, however, it would come with a warning to just power through the first few chapters, a promise that it will get better, and to try to look past the author's writing errors (spelling, grammar, etc.).

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I really want to give it a 4 but the lack of editing forces me to bring it down.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

Beautiful Christian twist on Beauty and the Beast. It was a great story of how the two main characters had a relationship with God. Annabel was the daughter of a wealthy merchant who died and left her and her family in a unpleasant situation. Not taking the necessary actions they needed to lead Annabel into servitude of the rumored to be not-so-nice Lord Ranulf, who has convinced himself that he will never love again after suffering such heartache. Annabel is determined to complete her years of service and head off to a nunnery as she is anxious to read the bible for herself and convinced that God cannot be so angry with his people and that all he wants to do is punish them (based off the preaching of her great Priest). However, God has different plans for her and Lord Ranulf. They are faced with decisions of following their own path or following God's will.

I don't think "the beast" was portrayed very beastly. For me, I think his demeanor was actually a lot nicer than the normal 'lords' for the middle age setting (only based off of other books and movies). As a Christian, however, I can see where he would come off as not being a very nice person. The rumors of him made him out to be a horrible person but his actions never really followed through on that.

I think the story unfolded rather quickly to say that the love between the two characters could be considered legit. I mean who really figures out that they are in love with someone by the end of two weeks. Or the other man who was interested in Annabel proposes to her on the second walk together. I guess to see the feelings to be taken more seriously I would have like this story to be played out over a couple months or so.

As a Christian story the author did a great job showing the bitterness being eased. Lord Ranulf was very bitter but the closer his relationship grew with Annabel God was able to heal him. Sometimes it takes another person for God to reveal to you his plans and Dickerson did a marvelous job keeping both characters' focus on God. It did seem that they were the only Christians in the book. During the church scene the rest of the village seemed to not be interested at all and besides Annabel and Lord Ranulf there was not talk of God until she confronted the whole village in order to protect him.

I did enjoy this book. I am a softy for the middle age times. It's focus and reminder of God's forgiveness was a great focal point. I would recommend it to any of my Christian and non Christian friends. I have enjoyed Dickerson's first two novels in this series and I am anxious to read the rest of them!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars