Monday, June 18, 2018

Review: A Painted House by John Grisham

A Painted House

Goodreads Overview:

Until that September of 1952, Luke Chandler had never kept a secret or told a single lie. But in the long, hot summer of his seventh year, two groups of migrant workers — and two very dangerous men — came through the Arkansas Delta to work the Chandler cotton farm. And suddenly mysteries are flooding Luke’s world.

A brutal murder leaves the town seething in gossip and suspicion. A beautiful young woman ignites forbidden passions. A fatherless baby is born ... and someone has begun furtively painting the bare clapboards of the Chandler farmhouse, slowly, painstakingly, bathing the run-down structure in gleaming white. And as young Luke watches the world around him, he unravels secrets that could shatter lives — and change his family and his town forever....

Review:

Back in the early 90's I read most of Grisham's books as soon as they were released.  I was in high school then and had plenty of time on my hands during the summer and on school breaks.  I have been trying to catch up, which is an almost impossible feat since I'm in the same predicament with a number of authors and series, but I keep plugging away.

This book was very different from any of his other books that I have read.  It did not involve a lawyer or some epic case that needed to be solved.  Instead, we are taken to a small cotton farm in Arkansas.  The story is told from the viewpoint of Luke Chandler, a seven-year-old boy who lives with his parents and grandparents.  He dreams of one day playing baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals and moving far away from the farm, where he spends long hours picking cotton six days a week.  Sunday is a day for rest and worship.  

Luke's sheltered lifestyle takes a real turn in the summer of 1952 when he witnesses not one, but two murders.  As the number of secrets compound throughout the story, it almost becomes too much for him to bear.  He begins acting differently and the adults get suspicious, but he knows he needs to keep quiet to protect himself and his family.

This wasn't my favorite Grisham book, but I did enjoy the story.  He did a great job of taking us back to a time and place most readers have little experience with.  There was plenty of drama, gossip, and scandal to keep the pages turning, but it wasn't the fast paced read I am used to from Grisham.    
  

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Review: United by Melissa Landers

United (Alienated, #3)

United is the third and final book in the Alienated series.  In this installment, the alliance between Earth and L'eihr is being threatened by another alien race.  They demand that all humans and L'eihr's return to their homes or they will destroy both civilizations.  Of course, Cara and Aelyx are not going to go down without a fight.  They are determined to return to the colony and the life they have worked so hard to build together.  

This book was action packed as Cara and Aelyx fight off not only another alien race, but also the hybrids from L'eihr, who are working with the enemy to sabotage the alliance. They recruit Cara's brother Troy, Aelyx's sister Elle, and his best friend Serene, but the odds certainly are not in their favor.  They have already witnessed the power of their competition and both of their governments have agreed that it is in their best interest to terminate the alliance.

Overall, I loved Aelyx and Cara throughout this series and was happy with how it concluded.  There were a few situations in this book that were VERY far fetched, even for fiction.  Of course, the end result likely gave readers the warm and fuzzy feeling were likely looking for, but you couldn't help but roll your eyes and think... Seriously?  Instead of spending quite so much time on the unrealistic elements, I wish there would have been a larger focus on life on the colony.  After the first two books, I was kind of over all of the drama that was keeping Cara and Aelyx apart.  I would have enjoyed reading more about how the humans and L'eihrs begin working together and seeing the colony flourish.

Alienated was definitely my favorite book in this series, but they were all very entertaining.  I especially enjoyed listening to them on audio.  I read the first book, but listened to the final two.  The narrator did an AMAZING job with the different character's voices.  I especially loved her interpretation of Aelyx's personality.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray


Don't Kiss the Messenger was about a group of athletes at a private high school.  It actually came across as more like a college setting since the students lived on campus and had the intense focus of collegiate sports vs. the more relaxed setting I see in our community high school programs.  The students are recruited, watch game tapes, have two a day practices, study tables, and tutors to make sure they remain academically eligible.

CeCe is the captain of the volleyball team and a star player.  She is well respected on campus, but she is constantly looking down on her appearance because of a scar she received in a car accident when she was ten.  She has a number of guy friends, but doesn't think a relationship is a possibility for her.

Emmett Brady is a senior transfer student and the new starting quarterback.  CeCe meets him in her Shakespeare class when they end up getting paired up together for a class introduction exercise.  She quickly learns there is a lot more to him than football.  He is a gifted music student, intelligent, and extremely good looking.  While she is interest in him, she believes someone like him couldn't possible be interested in someone like her.

Emmett starts dating Bryn, who is a transfer student on the volleyball team.  She is beautiful, but reminded me of Paris Hilton.  Her idea of a deep conversation was "He's Hot" or "You have nice hair."  Emmett would have ditched her after the first date if it weren't for a little scheme CeCe and Bryn devised.  It would be better for Bryn to communicate with him via text and email to break the ice....AKA so she could get CeCe to help her sound more intelligent.  Well...as you can imagine the plan backfires every time Emmett and Bryn are together and she can't string a few words together on her own.

Emmett and CeCe really start to hit it off via email and their friendship is quickly growing from their in class interactions.  They have a lot in common, but will she find the courage to tell him she is really the "messenger."

Overall, I loved reading all of the interactions between Emmett and CeCe.  They definitely had chemistry and were drawn to each other's personality and interests.  I wish their relationship would have been the major focus of the book, but perhaps that is what will take place in the next installment in this series.  I understood the Beauty and the Beast references with the really pretty girl and the scarred girl, but the constant focus on looks was a bit overwhelming.  I was more interested in Emmett's music, CeCe's crazy stunts, and the campus sports scene.  Those are the things I will remember most vs. who was considered pretty and who was not.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

White Rabbit

I had the pleasure of meeting Caleb at a Fierce Reads BEA event back in 2016 and was immediately sold by his killer personality.  I'd never heard of him prior to the event, but his book, Last Seen Leaving, moved to the very top of my TBR list ahead of several books I spent weeks plotting to get.  It was the first BEA book that I read and I absolutely loved it, so it should be no surprise that I read his latest book as soon as it was released.

Rufus Holt is a sixteen-year-old high school student who is far from the top of the social ladder.  He stumbles into a twisted murder mystery thanks to an unexpected call from his half-sister April.  She is part of their high school's elite who were gathered at Fox Whitney's family cottage for a Fourth of July party that went terribly wrong.  They aren't close, but she tells him he is the only one she can trust.  Her compelling plea for help has him convinced her life may be in danger.  He never could have anticipated how the rest of his night would play out.

The majority of the book takes place over the course of that one evening.  Rufus and his ex-boyfriend, Bash, find April covered in blood while holding the knife that was presumably used to murder her boyfriend.  She insists she isn't guilty and asks him to help her find the real killer.  There were six people at the party and one of them is now dead.  April insists it wasn't her, so that leaves 4 suspects, unless someone else stumbled upon the remote property.  

As additional bodies turn up and a shooting match takes place, Rufus and Bash realize they have uncovered something much larger than they ever could have imagined.  All of the people involved are telling half of the story to cover their own indiscretions, but they soon gather enough information to get them to start spilling the dirt on the other party goers.  

I had several ideas of who the killer was throughout the book, but I wasn't even close.  It all comes full circle in the final few chapters and we can see how all of the clues come together.  I have always been a fan of mysteries and thrillers, so this was right up my alley.  I have to compliment Caleb on his vocabulary throughout the book.  He definitely didn't hold back on the word choice even though it is geared for YA readers.  I can't wait to read his next book, Death Prefers Blonds, which has an anticipated release date of January 29, 2019.

Bookish Goals Status Update: May 2018



In an effort to help keep myself on track, I am going to post monthly status updates showing where I stand for each of my 2018 Goals.

Anything highlighted in gray is currently in progress, but not yet completed.

  • Read and review at least 36 books 
    1. Crossed by Ally Condie
    2. The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin
    3. Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout
    4. Love Show by Audrey Bell
    5. Invaded by Melissa Landers
    6. The Grift of the Magi by Ally Carter
    7. Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade
    8. Reached by Ally Condie
    9. United by Melissa Landers
    10. White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig
    11. A Painted House by John Grisham
    12. Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray
  • I am participating in the Try Something New challenge hosted by The Herd Presents.  I'm going to aim for level 2 with 11-20 books. Any book over 80 pages qualifies as long as it is new to you.  New author, new genre, new series, etc.
    1. The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin (Shaw Confessions #1) - New Series
    2. Love Show by Audrey Bell - New Author
    3. Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray (New Series)
  • Read at least 10 New Adult books (My definition of NA = protagonists are post high school, but under 30)
    1. The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin
    2. Love Show by Audrey Bell
    3. Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade
    • Read three of the books that had been on my TBR list the longest.  I now have 45 books that were all added on September 7, 2010 that would qualify.  
      1. A Painted House by John Grisham

    • Finish reading at least 5 series I have already started.  (I have several trilogies with final books I still need to read. 
      1. Reached by Ally Condie - Book 3 in the Matched Series
      2. United by Melissa Landers - Book 3 in the Alienated Series
    • TBR Challenge.  For this challenge I want to read at least 20 books that were on my TBR list AND were published prior to January 1, 2018. 
      1. Crossed by Ally Condie
      2. The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin
      3. Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout
      4. Love Show by Audrey Bell
      5. Invaded by Melissa Landers
      6. The Grift of the Magi by Ally Carter
      7. Reached by Ally Condie
      8. United by Melissa Landers
      9. A Painted House by John Grisham
      10. Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray
    • I joined the New Release Challenge hosted by Unconventional Book Views and Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My! My goal is to reach New Release Newbie level with 12 new releases read/reviewed during 2017.  The minimum length for a book to qualify is 100 pages. 
      1. Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade - Released 3/20/18
      2. White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig - Released 4/24/18

    Monday, May 21, 2018

    COYER Summer Birthday Bash Sign-Up


    It is almost time for the Summer COYER challenge.  The official sing-up post is over at the COYER Challenge Site.  The challenge begins June 9th at 12 am EST and ends August 31st at 11:59 pm EST.  The review linky and giveaway widget will remain open until September 1st at 11:39 pm EST. 

    I have participated in the COYER challenges since the summer of 2015 and always look forward to them.  To help celebrate their 5th Birthday they are bringing back some of their favorite challenges from the past 5 years.  The only requirement is to link your sign-up post prior to the start of the challenge.  From there you can participate in as many or few of the challenges as you like.  Just remember to link your reviews.

    Since it is summer and I should hopefully have more free time, I'm going to try to reach the Spring Clean level with 11-20 books read/reviewed.

    The following is my List for the Summer Challenge:
    1. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
    2. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
    3. The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
    4. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella - Currently Reading
    5. See How They Run by Ally Carter
    6. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
    7. Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
    8. Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter
    9. High Five by Janet Evanovich 
    10. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
    11. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols
    12. Between the Lines by Tammara Webber
    13. Never Never by Colleen Hoover
    14. The Sixth Man by David Baldacci
    15. Cress by Marissa Meyer

    Friday, May 4, 2018

    Bookish Goals Status Update: April 2018



    In an effort to help keep myself on track, I am going to post monthly status updates showing where I stand for each of my 2018 Goals.

    Anything highlighted in gray is currently in progress, but not yet completed.

    • Read and review at least 36 books 
      1. Crossed by Ally Condie
      2. The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin
      3. Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout
      4. Love Show by Audrey Bell
      5. Invaded by Melissa Landers
      6. The Grift of the Magi by Ally Carter
      7. Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade
      8. Reached by Ally Condie
      9. United by Melissa Landers
      10. White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig
    • I am participating in the Try Something New challenge hosted by The Herd Presents.  I'm going to aim for level 2 with 11-20 books. Any book over 80 pages qualifies as long as it is new to you.  New author, new genre, new series, etc.
      1. The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin (Shaw Confessions #1) - New Series
      2. Love Show by Audrey Bell - New Author
    • Read at least 10 New Adult books (My definition of NA = protagonists are post high school, but under 30)
      1. The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin
      2. Love Show by Audrey Bell
      3. Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade
      • Read three of the books that had been on my TBR list the longest.  I now have 45 books that were all added on September 7, 2010 that would qualify.  


      • Finish reading at least 5 series I have already started.  (I have several trilogies with final books I still need to read. 
        1. Reached by Ally Condie - Book 3 in the Matched Series
        2. United by Melissa Landers - Book 3 in the Alienated Series
      • TBR Challenge.  For this challenge I want to read at least 20 books that were on my TBR list AND were published prior to January 1, 2018. 
        1. Crossed by Ally Condie
        2. The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin
        3. Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout
        4. Love Show by Audrey Bell
        5. Invaded by Melissa Landers
        6. The Grift of the Magi by Ally Carter
        7. Reached by Ally Condie
        8. United by Melissa Landers
      • I joined the New Release Challenge hosted by Unconventional Book Views and Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My! My goal is to reach New Release Newbie level with 12 new releases read/reviewed during 2017.  The minimum length for a book to qualify is 100 pages. 
        1. Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade - Released 3/20/18
        2. White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig - Released 4/24/18