Tag Archives: Goodreads:First Reads

Review: Tales From My Closet

TalesFromMyClosetPublisher: Scholastic Press
Author: Jennifer Anne Moses
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

★ ☆★ ☆★ – 4 Stars

Summary
Five girls. A paper dress. Tons of shoes. One unforgettable raincoat. White Jeans. Secrets. Drama. Friends?
For Justine, Bianca, Becka, Polly, and Anne, living in Westfield, New Jersey is “life on planet toilet paper.” At least that’s how Justine feels when she shows up as the new girl in school wearing a Scott Paper Caper dress. To her, it’s a super-original fashion statement. But other “loser freaks” don’t agree.
The other girls have their own fashion issues, ranging from fabulous boots to raggedy pajamas to what to wear to therapy. Told in alternating voices, TALES FROM MY CLOSET follows the stories of high school kids who have nothing in common–and everything in common. They’re at war with each other, but through their clothes, they reveal and conceal themselves and make peace with what it means to be a teen. Over the course of a school year, their individual struggles and successes come together to tell a story that’s funny, honest, and all-girl fabulous.

Review
Loved the alternating stories throughout the book. Huge of family secrets, financial instabilities, denial, self-image, self-discovery, teenage hormones, and a fashion sense that will drive them crazy! With the alternating stories, you got the insight of all the girl’s thoughts, and how everything played out. Of course all the girls have a connection that is bound to be nothing but true friends.
The story was very well put together, inviting, and you can really see how this could easily be a true life story. My only downfall was some of the characters lacked building, and I would love to known more about them. However, it is definitely worth a read and will recommend to those would love Young Adult.

About the Author
JenniferMosesJennifer Anne Moses, who lived for years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a writer and painter who currently lives in Montclair, NJ, where the pizza is much better but the Zydeco, not so much. In addition to her books, she’s published dozens of essays, articles, Op Ed pieces, and short stories, and her work has been anthologized in the Pushcart Prizes and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best. At readings, she mainly tells stories and jokes. She and her husband have two mutts and three children.

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Disclosure: I won this book for free via Goodreads First Reads. I did not have to do the review, and this review is my honest opinion.

Review: Twisted Sisters @altgeldshrugged

TwistedSistersPublisher: Penguin Group
Author: Jen Lancaster
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Chick-Lit

★ ☆ – 2 stars

Summary
Reagan Bishop is a pusher. A licensed psychologist who stars on the Wendy Winsberg cable breakout show I Need a Push, Reagan helps participants become their best selves by urging them to overcome obstacles and change behaviors. An overachiever, Reagan is used to delivering results.
Despite her overwhelming professional success, Reagan never seems to earn her family’s respect. Her younger sister, Geri, is and always will be the Bishop family favorite. When a national network buys Reagan’s show, the pressures for unreasonably quick results and higher ratings mount. But Reagan’s a clinician, not a magician, and fears witnessing her own personal failings in prime time. (And seriously? Her family will never let her hear the end of it.) Desperate to make the show work and keep her family at bay, Reagan actually listens when the show’s New Age healer offers an unconventional solution…
Record Nielsen ratings follow. But when Reagan decides to use her newfound power to teach everyone a lesson about sibling rivalry, she’s the one who will be schooled…

Review
To be perfectly honest, I almost DNF this book as soon as I landed on page 20.

I’d also  prove she’s not allergic to nuts. (That was my ham sandwich, damn it!) ~pg 20

Food allergies is nothing to play with, and you wouldn’t “prove” anything. This was the hardest thing to overcome to even try to read the rest of the book. If someone says they have a food allergy, you shouldn’t have to prove anything. But on the plus side at least at the end of the book she did use Epipen and went to the ER.
With a daughter who is anaphylatic to tree nuts, I wouldn’t want anyone wanting to “prove” her allergies. We have seen what happens, and it can be deadly.

On another hand, I did find this book hard to read. The characters seem to lack, can’t put my finger on what they lack, but the focus of the book just wasn’t my cup of tea, or coffee. Would I try this author again? Sure. I just couldn’t get into the main character of Reagan, she was so self-centered. Who loves anyone like that?

About the Author
JenLancasterJen Lancaster is the author of her own memoirs including: as Bitter is the New Black, Bright Lights, Big Ass, Such A Pretty Fat, Pretty in Plaid, My Fair Lazy, and the newest: Jeneration X.
She has also dabbled with fiction in her first book, If You Were Here.

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Disclosure: I won this book for free via Goodreads First Reads. I did not have to do the review, and this review is my honest opinion.

Review: Swimming with Maya

SwimmingMayaPublisher: Dream of Things
Author: Eleanor Vincent
Genre: Memoir
Review Source: Goodreads ARC

★ ☆★ – 3 Stars

Summary
Swimming with Maya demonstrates the remarkable process of healing after the traumatic death of a loved one. Eleanor Vincent raised her two daughters, Maya and Meghan, virtually as a single-parent. Maya, the eldest, was a high-spirited and gifted young woman. As a toddler, Maya was an angelic tow-head, full of life and curiosity. As a teenager, Maya was energetic and independent – and often butted heads with her mother. But Eleanor and Maya were always close and connected, like best friends or sisters, but always also mother and daughter.
Then at age 19, Maya mounts a horse bareback as a dare and, in a crushing cantilever fall, is left in a coma from which she will never recover. Eleanor’s life is turned upside down as she struggles to make the painful decision about Maya’s fate.
Ultimately Eleanor chooses to donate Maya’s organs. Years later, she is able to hear Maya’s heart beat in the chest of the heart recipient. Along the way, Eleanor re-examines her relationship with her daughter, as well as Eleanor’s traumatic life as a child and young woman. In a story that has been called “heartbreaking and heart-healing,” Eleanor Vincent illuminates the kind of courage, creativity, faith, and sheer tenacity it takes to find one’s balance after unthinkable tragedy.

Review
When a book brings you to tears, you know the writer has pulled you into her words, and with Eleanor she pulls you into her story. I longed for Eleanor through having to tell her daughter’s story. It made me understand how my own Aunt must have went through when she buried her own son. I could never imagine the pain, the questions, or the emotions one might feel, but Eleanor captured just that.
One part of the book that caught my attention, was when she was giving away Maya’s shoes and the girl tried them on then walked to make sure they fit. After the girl left Eleanor could still hear the sound of Maya’s feet. I would never have thought about that, and I can imagine that would be hard on any parent to witness, especially with coming to the realization their child just passed away.
While getting further into the book, the book starts focusing more on the mother though, and I really wish it would have focused more on Maya: her childhood, laughter, the things she did, what she accomplished, etc.
Overall is was an okay book.

About the Author
Eleanor Vincent is an award-winning writer whose debut memoir, Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story, was nominated for the Independent Publisher Book Award and was reissued by Dream of Things press early in 2013. She writes about love, loss, and grief recovery with a special focus on the challenges and joys of raising children at any age.

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Disclosure: I won this book for free via Goodreads First Reads. I did not have to do the review, and this review is my honest opinion.

Review: When She Came Home

WhenSheCameHomePublisher: Grand Central Publishing
Author: Drusilla Campbell
Genre: Military, Fiction Contemporary
Review Source: Goodreads ARC

★ ☆★ ☆ – 4 Stars

Summary:
Frankie Byrne Tennyson stunned everyone when she decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. Now-after bravely serving her country in Iraq-she’s finally come home. Home to a husband whose lingering feelings of abandonment make her wonder if their lives can ever be the same. Home to a daughter whose painful encounters with bullies can only be healed by a mother’s love. And home to a father who still can’t accept his daughter’s decision to serve in spite of his own stellar career as a brigadier general. But the most difficult part about coming home lies within Frankie herself. To save everything she holds dear, she must face the toughest battle of her life . . .
A moving portrait of a modern American family, WHEN SHE CAME HOME reminds us that some things-honor, acceptance, and, above all, love-are truly worth fighting for.

Review:
I usually don’t read war/military books, but I don’t know why this book caught my eye. However, I am so glad I read it. When She Came Home has everything under the sun going on: domestic abuse, dysfunctional family, military issues, etc. You name it, it is probably somewhere in this book. You learn how to grow with the characters, how they intertwine with one another, you start to understand how it is to be in war, you urge to reach to them.. so captivating.
Frankie enlists in the military after 9/11, she thinks she needs to protect her daughter, her family, but most importantly her husband thinks she wants the approval of her father, the General.
When Frankie finally gets home she doesn’t want to admit anything is wrong with her, even two months later; however, the effects of Frankie’s emotions are toying with her daughter emotional balance.
This was by far one of the hardest books I have read in the longest time, probably why I don’t like reading war/military type books. On another note, I am so glad I did. It gives me more respect, than ever, for those who fight for our country on a daily basis.

About the Author:
Drusilla Campbell is an award winning author of 16 published novels, including the best-selling and award winning novels, The Good Sister, Blood Orange, and Bone Lake. Her latest novel, Little Girl Gone from Grand Central Publishing, is available January 31, 2012.

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Disclosure: I won this book for free via Goodreads First Reads. I did not have to do the review, and this review is my honest opinion.

Review: Transparent

TransparentPublisher: HarperTeen
Author: Natalie Whipple
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Transparent #1
Review Source: Goodreads ARC

★ ☆★ ☆★ – 5 Stars!

Summary: (Goodreads)
Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.
An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.
After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.
Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

My Review:
I really enjoyed this book, like complete awesome read. Once I started I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep going… I wanted all my questions that was stirring in my head to be answered and I couldn’t sleep til I got those answers. With the sleep thing: having a 5-year-old, and an infant the sleep thing means a lot, haha!
Fiona’s honesty was so blunt, and her dry humor reminded me a lot of my mother, haha! She was definitely a likely character in this book. I loved watching her character grow as the book went deeper into the storyline. Fiona has never seen herself due to being born with differing ability of invisibility. People could see her clothes, but not her body. I thought that was different from other “invisibility” characters from what I  have read before.
I loved how Fiona got to meet people her age, and got to see how her transformation started to take place. All the characters in this book were so great, and I can’t imagine how they will develop more into the series, but I will definitely have to keep my eyes open for the next book.

About the Author:
Natalie Whipple, sadly, does not have any cool mutations like her characters. Unless you count the ability to watch anime and Korean dramas for hours on end. Or her uncanny knack for sushi consumption.
She grew up in the Bay Area and relocated to Utah for high school, which was quite the culture shock for her anime-loving teen self. But the Rocky Mountains eventually won her over, and she stuck around to earn her degree in English linguistics at BYU. Natalie still lives in Utah with her husband and three kids, and keeps the local Asian market in business with all her attempts to cook Thai curry, Pho, and “real” ramen.

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Disclosure: I won this book for free via Goodreads First Reads. I did not have to do the review, and this review is my honest opinion.

Review: Snow Angels

Snow AngelsPublisher: Berkley Trade
Author: James Thompson
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Series: Inspector Kari Vaara #1
Review Source:  Goodreads ARC

★ ☆★ – 3 Stars

Summary: (GoodReads)
It is called kaamos–two weeks of unrelenting darkness and soul-numbing cold that falls upon Finnish Lapland, a hundred miles into the Arctic Circle, just before Christmas. Some get through it with the help of cheap Russian alcohol; some sink into depression.
This year, it may have driven someone mad enough to commit murder. The brutalized body of a beautiful Somali woman has been found in the snow, and Inspector Kari Vaara must find her killer. It will be a challenge in a place where ugly things lurk under frozen surfaces, and silence is a way of life.

My Review:
I enjoyed the suspense of the book; however I did find it hard to connect with characters, just because it lacked some detail of getting to know them. The book was more about the “snow angels” then about who is who and why. However, it could be that with this being the first book of a series that the characters build during the other books. I love the fact that you get sucked into the darkness of the plot. I believe that is what makes you want to turn pages, because I surely did that. I did, in fact, enjoy the novel and I will be waiting for the second book to come out.
It is brutally violent, dark, harsh words, but yet it sucked me into wanting more. Definitely more of an adult book, unless you like the dark suspense like I do.

About the Author:
James Thompson, eastern Kentucky born and raised, has lived in Finland for the past decade and currently makes his home in Helsinki with his wife. Before becoming a full-time writer, Thompson studied Swedish and Finnish, in which he is fluent, and worked as a bartender, bouncer, construction worker, photographer, rare coin dealer, and soldier.

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Disclosure: I won this book for free via Goodreads First Reads. I did not have to do the review, and this review is my honest opinion.

Review: Tainted Love

TaintedLovePublisher: Terra-Mia Press
Author: Eva Márquez
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Series: Sweetest Taboo #2
Review Source: Goodreads ARC

★ ☆★ ☆ – 4 Stars

Summary: (Goodreads)
Isabel thought her life was on track – she was doing well in college, moving quickly toward her future, and deciding who she wanted to be. Best of all, she’d reunited with Tom, the swim coach she had a secret affair with in high school. But it doesn’t take long for her history – and his – to start catching up with them.
When Isabel goes back to her college life, after spending a blissful summer reuniting with Tom, things take a dangerous turn. Isabel gets swept up in a relationship with a dark, mysterious professor, with whom she begins a covert love affair that could ruin everything she has rebuilt with Tom. Worse, she starts to hear rumors from friends back home – rumors about a teacher having affairs with students. And Tom seems to be at the center of the controversy. Will Isabel’s instincts about what Tom’s been up to during their time apart drive her farther away, or will she forgo her new romance to run to Tom’s defense?

My Review:
I couldn’t stop reading this book! There was a lot of back and forth of emotions I had to deal with when reading though.
Number 1 – Isabel’s “thoughts” were so irrational. Most of her decisions made me want to throw the book at times. Other times I could understand her “rational” thinking due to her previous involvements.
Number 2 – Tom’s inability to walk away when he could. The heartache he must have went through was something that we didn’t go in depth on, but I could only imagine his ever though, or well-being.
Number 3 – How could anyone ever think this is okay!? There is so much about this book that makes me cringe. I guess being a parent sheds a light in a whole other angle.
On another hand, I loved the storyline. I read this book before the first one, and I picked up right where it left off. I guess this book could be a stand-alone because I sure got the “jiffs” of the idea going on. I absolutely loved the flow of the words Eva put into every word. It was really captivating. Here I am sitting here right before bed already wanting to know about the next book, the cliffhanger off this book will drive me bonkers! haha!!

About the Author: Goodreads
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, daughter of European immigrants, Eva Márquez has spent most of her life outside of her home country. At the age of five, Eva accompanied her parents to the United States, where the family settled permanently. After graduating from university, she went on to complete graduate studies in International Relations in Spain. Eva received her Master of International Studies degree from the University of Sydney and went on to work in the global health field in Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Eva currently resides in Southern Africa.

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Disclosure: I won this book for free via Goodreads First Reads. I did not have to do the review, and this review is my honest opinion.

Review: Frankie & Delilah

Frankie & DelilahPublisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Author: Francesca-Anna Daniels & Delilah Borden
Genre: Contempary Romance, Literature & Fiction
Review Source: Goodreads ARC

★ ☆★ ☆ – 4 Stars

Summary (Goodreads):
Francesca-Anna Daniels and Delilah Borden, better known as Frankie and Delilah to their friends, have been inseparable since childhood. Abandoned by their parents, their close friendship has endured through thick and thin. One very ordinary afternoon, a letter addressed to Frankie arrives that sets her on a tragic collision course with fate. Nobody could have predicted the wild and strange turns that their lives would now take, or the catastrophe that would separate them forever. Or would it?
Driven by her need to find answers, Delilah travels to England to relive Frankie’s last moments on Earth, and returns home to find the shock of her life. The far-reaching consequences of a split-second encounter has set things in motion that cannot be undone. When myth becomes reality, Delilah must make a choice that may be her salvation or her undoing.

My Review:
I thought this book would be about a journey of two girls, and how their dating lives intertwine with one another.. Boy, was I in for a treat! Within a few chapters the book took a spin I wasn’t expecting. Frankie & Delilah had me on my toes as I flipped the pages. I went from knowing how things would play out to mouth dropping shock, ha! (In a good way)
The shock of the book took me on a creepy adventure. Who knew life could unexpectedly turn so dramatic. Frankie’s description of coldness was absolutely brilliant!
I would say the only down fall is going back and forth from present to past. It becomes difficult to keep up, but you can sort it out.

Due to sexual content and language, this book is recommended for 17+

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Disclosure: I won this book for free via Goodreads First Reads. I did not have to do the review, and this review is my honest opinion.

Review: I’ll Never Forget

IllneverforgetPublisher: iUniverse
Author: Elaine C. Pereira
Genre: Memoir
Review Source:  Goodreads ARC

★ ☆★ ☆★ – 5 Stars!

Summary: (Goodreads)
It is extremely difficult to watch a loved one decline as dementia ravages his or her mind, robbing him or her of memory, thinking abilities, and judgment. In her touching memoir, I Will Never Forget, Elaine C. Pereira shares the sometimes heartbreaking and occasionally humorous story of her mother’s journey through dementia, as seen through the eyes of her little girl.
Pereira begins by offering entertaining glimpses into her own childhood and feisty teenage years. Through it all, Pereira shares how her mom’s unconditional love and creative parenting style helped mold an opinionated young woman into a resourceful adult who eventually would move mountains on her mother’s behalf. As Betty Ward slowly begins to wander down the dark and narrow corridors of Alzheimer’s, Pereira details her mother’s amazing ability to mask the truth until something as innocuous as a drapery rod suddenly launches a waterfall of events. As their roles shift and a new paradigm forms, Pereira transforms into a caregiver who blindly navigates dementia’s unpredictable haze while her mother orchestrates Houdini-like disappearances and surprisingly rallies to take charge of her own destiny.
I Will Never Forget shares a powerful, emotional story that can help people affected by dementia take comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

My Review:
So many are affected by Dementia, My Grandmother was one of those. I am so glad Elaine shared her mother’s story. I could relate as I look back on my Grandmother when she would misplace recipes, her handwriting changed to the point of shakiness and not being able to read it, she later couldn’t remember which medicine she had taken that morning, evening, or at bed time. I remember how it affected not only her, but the whole family.
One vivid memory was her getting so mad that “people” misplaced her keys, and her purse. She would get mad as a whistle. She would hunt all over the house, but then I would later find her purse, or keys still in the car (this was before we took those things away)
Elaine brings a new look on life, and her writing is smooth, before you know it you will be 100 pages in, and not even wanting to put the book down. I would recommend this book to anyone, anywhere. You never know when Dementia could hit your family, as it did mine and Elaine’s.

About the Author: Amazon
Elaine C. Pereira is a retired school occupational therapist who worked with special needs children. She earned her bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Wayne State University and later completed her master’s degree. Pereira and her husband live in southeastern Michigan with their cat, Snoopy, and two dogs, Bailey and Maddee.
Elaine C. Pereira is a licensed/registered Occupational Therapist who worked with special needs children as well as adult rehab and home care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from Wayne State University and later completed her Master’s Degree. Elaine and her husband Joseph live in southeastern Michigan with their cat, Snoopy, and two dogs, Bailey and Maddee. Together they have five adult children, Joe’s three sons and Elaine’s twin daughters, and five young grandchildren.
Pereira was inspired to share her mother’s story in part to help others know they are not alone in their journey through Dementia. She donates a portion of book sale proceeds to Alzheimer’s research. Pereira has also completed courses a for Certified Dementia Practitioner and Certified Dementia Caregiver, CDP. CDC.

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Disclosure: I won this book for free via Goodreads First Reads. I did not have to do the review, and this review is my honest opinion.

The Wisdom of Hair

ThewisdomofhairPublisher: Berkley Trade/Penguin Publishing
Author: Kim Boykin
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Review Source:  Goodreads ARC

★ ☆★ ☆★ – 5 Stars!

Summary: (Goodreads)
Life can be beautiful, but it takes a little work…
“The problem with cutting your own hair is that once you start, you just keep cutting, trying to fix it, and the truth is, some things can never be fixed. The day of my daddy’s funeral, I cut my bangs until they were the length of those little paintbrushes that come with dime-store watercolor sets. I was nine years old. People asked me why I did it, but I was too young then to know I was changing my hair because I wanted to change my life.”
In 1983, on her nineteenth birthday, Zora Adams finally says goodbye to her alcoholic mother and their tiny town in the mountains of South Carolina. Living with a woman who dresses like Judy Garland and brings home a different man each night is not a pretty existence, and Zora is ready for life to be beautiful.
With the help of a beloved teacher, she moves to a coastal town and enrolls in the Davenport School of Beauty. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Cathcart, she learns the art of fixing hair, and becomes fast friends with the lively Sara Jane Farquhar, a natural hair stylist. She also falls hard for handsome young widower Winston Sawyer, who is drowning his grief in bourbon. She couldn’t save Mama, but maybe she can save him.
As Zora practices finger waves, updos, and spit curls, she also comes to learn that few things are permanent in this life—except real love, lasting friendship, and, ultimately… forgiveness.

My Review:
The Wisdom of Hair is a southern story of love, friendship, healing, forgiveness, courage, and learning to let go. You will learn that in life, we often deal with diseased and pained relationships in our lives, and some times, we just have to cut them out of our lives, as we do with haircuts.
Zora Adams, main character of the book, grows up in life in abandoned and despairs. Her mother is an alcoholic, and brings men in and out every evening of Zora’s life. Zora finally had enough of her mom and called out for help; she embarks on a new life, and starts unfolding her own dreams. Zora becomes a best friend to Sara, and Sara adds that bright of color to Zora’s life, and to the book!
There are two love stories within this book.
Zora and Winston, Zora feeds herself to Winston by fixing him meals, and through that Winston provided a place to live for Zora.
Sara Jane and Jimmy love at first sight, and their love blooms before your eyes as you continue to read the book.
I can tell you that the story is absolutely great, lovely read, through the writing and the reading. It is definitely necessary read.

About the Author:
Kim Boykin learned about women and their hair in her mother’s beauty shop in a tiny South Carolina town. She loves to write stories about strong Southern women, because that’s what she knows. While her stories are always set in South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, three dogs, and 126 rose bushes.

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Disclosure: I won this book for free via Goodreads First Reads. I did not have to do the review, and this review is my honest opinion.