Thursday, January 30, 2020

Review: Origin by Jennifer Armentrout

Goodreads Overview:

Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?

And will they even be together?


This is the fourth book in the Lux series. In this installment, we learned more about what Daedalus is doing in their detention facilities. We already knew they were working on a cure for various diseases such as cancer via. mutation, but that is nothing compared to the Origins we are introduced to. The Origins have some unique abilities and are exceptionally powerful, but most of them are very impulsive and lack self control. I liked the Origins who are assisting Daemon and Katy and hope the group can defeat Daedalus once and for all.

It is hard to tell if Daedalus has any good intentions or if everything they are saying is a lie. Regardless, their methods are deplorable and they went WAY too far in this novel. While the Luxen did go to extreme measures to protect themselves and the ones they love, Daedalus put their own objectives ahead of the safety of hundreds if not thousands of innocent bystanders. A few characters were lost as a result of Daedalus's actions, but the biggest surprise was when the Luxen had to eliminate a traitor from within. I never would have guessed this individual was secretly working with Daedalus.  It wasn't like Blake who everyone knew was on the fringe and couldn't be trusted.

Overall, this was another entertaining addition to the series. I can't wait to read the final book to see how everything unfolds.  I'm sure it will not be easy, but I hope the Luxen and Origins can finally live on their own terms without the outside influences of Daedalus and the arum who have been plaguing them their entire lives.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Review: Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

This was the Once Upon a Book Club's New Year's Eve selection. I had never purchased one of their boxes before and decided to give it a try. I absolutely LOVED the book and the concept of opening a present when I reached a certain page. The New Year's mini box contained an adorable bookish champagne glass that every book nerd would have loved. It says, "I like to party and by party I mean read books". It also came with a 40 book reading challenge, which I am thoroughly enjoying. 


There were two surprise gifts that readers got to open when they reached certain pages in the book, which coincided with the story. The first gift I have found to be useful, but the second gift was a complete stretch. I understood what they were trying to capture, but at this price point, the gift was such low quality that I can't imagine anyone would actually use it. I threw mine away and have been enjoying the rest of the items.

Goodreads Overview:

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.


After reading the book I do not feel like the overview paints a clear picture of this story. Yes...there was a tragic loss and some friction between Clara and Morgan. They were both grieving and trying to process the events that took place in their own way, which was not productive most of the time. They do have different personalities, but I did not feel like they were at complete odds. They both loved each other and simply did not know how to communicate and work together without Chris or Jenny in the picture. Morgan was simply trying to protect Clara from the painful truth, but honesty really would have been the best policy in this case. The secrets led to speculation that was incorrect and placed the resentment and hurt feelings on the victim instead of the source. Once everything is out in the open, they have far more respect for one another and the healing process can finally begin.

In addition to Clara and Morgan we are introduced to Jonah, who was Chris's best friend growing up. Morgan seemed to have feelings for him when they were younger, but once she discovered she was pregnant at the age of 17, her life was pretty much set. She will marry Chris and they will live happily-ever-after. That seemed to be exactly how things played out until the beginning of the book. With another birthday rolling around Morgan is feeling empty. She doesn't have a career or anything outside of the home to keep her busy. Her life is caught in a rut of housework and taking care of her family. There is next to no spontaneity in her life. She wakes up at the same time every day, makes breakfast, and has a rotation of meals she prepares for dinner. Everything works like clockwork, but she is beginning to resent not finishing college and having a life of her own. Then she receives the call about the crash and her entire world is turned upside down. 

Clara doesn't know how to talk to her mother about the tragedy and turns to her friend, Miller, for support. I loved Miller!! Jonah is a teacher at Clara and Miller's school and suggests they work on a school project together. Miller wants to produce films when he grows up and Clara wants to become an actress, so it seems like a perfect fit. The only problem, Clara's father doesn't approve. He knew Miller's father growing up and assumes the apple didn't fall far from the tree, which couldn't be further from the truth in this case. Miller eventually proves himself to Morgan, even though Clara's actions put him at a serious disadvantage most of the book. 

Morgan and Jonah turn to each other for support as they uncover the painful truth of the events that led up to the crash. I enjoyed seeing how their relationship transitioned and progressed as they worked through their past feelings and the current situation they find themselves in. 

I have yet to go wrong with a Colleen Hoover book. This was a 5 star book that I will not soon forget. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Review: Storm Warning by Linda Sue Park (39 Clues #9)

Goodreads Overview:

Throughout the hunt for the 39 Clues, Amy and Dan have encountered some of the darkest aspects of history . . . and had to deal with the role their family played. But are they ready for the truth? In this thrilling ninth installment, Amy and Dan hit the high seas as they follow the trail of some infamous ancestors to track down a long lost treasure. However, the real prize isn’t hidden in a chest. It's the discovery of the Madrigals' most dangerous secret and, even more shockingly, the true identity of the mysterious man in black.


Amy and Dan do not trust Nellie, their au pair, for the majority of this book. They believe she is leaking clues and information to the other teams on the quest.  She has been very secretive and the other teams always seem to have information only the three of them should know.  If Amy and Dan aren't sharing the information, that leaves only Nellie.  

This leg of the hunt takes place in the Bahamas and Jamaica. We learned about pirates - Anne Bonny in particular. She was most likely a Cahill and dressed up like a boy to become a pirate.

Amy and Dan finally get the better of Isabel Kabra, which was a long time coming. This was essential in acquiring another clue at the end of the book, which leads them to the next destination in the hunt. 

Just when they were about ready to quit and head home, some HUGE revelations are exposed. The Cahill kids now have a mission that is even more important than winning the clue hunt. They must accomplish the mission Grace, their parents, and generations of Madrigals have been working towards for centuries.

This was another entertaining installment in the series. I enjoy the historical aspects of the stories and look forward to seeing what is in store for Amy and Dan when they arrive in England.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Review: Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell

Goodreads Overview;

It is New Year's Eve, the last day of Virginia's bloodiest year since the Civil War. Dr. Kay Scarpetta plunges into the murky depths of a ship graveyard to recover the very human remains of Ted Eddings, an investigative reporter. What kind of story was Eddings chasing below the icy surface of the Elizabeth River? And why did Scarpetta receive a phone call from someone reporting the death before the police were notified? She soon discovers that Eddings' murder is merely the first layer of something much deeper --- a labyrinthine conspiracy that will put all of her criminal and forensic knowledge to the test like never before. For Scarpetta, the real challenge won't be cataloging the growing number of dead bodies, but preventing herself and those she loves from becoming the next victims.


This is the 7th book in the Kay Scarpetta series. While all of the books involve independent cases that can be read and enjoyed on their own, I would recommend reading the series in order if you plan on reading more than just a few of them. The characters and their relationships with others in the series evolve from one book to the next. It would be rather confusing in that aspect if you decide to skip around. 

In this installment, Kay is investigating the murder of a reporter that worked relatively closely with her office. Her assistant medical examiner in another distract, who should be the one handling this case, had a death in the family and had to return to England for the funeral. He offered to let Kay stay at his house while he is gone, which she accepted. When people start prowling around his house, she begins to question her own safety and why her assistant is really out of town. 

Another member of her staff is impacted by the investigation and an unusual event takes place at her office. Someone really doesn't want the results of this investigation to get out. The closer Kay and her team get to the truth, the more dangerous things become.

Now that Kay's niece, Lucy, has graduated from the FBI Academy, she is an actual member of Benton Wesley's team. He is a profiler for the FBI and heads up a number of investigations in this series. Kay is one of his consultants and doesn't have a second thought about putting herself in danger, but she does not want Lucy on the front lines. Lucy is a computer genius, which should allow her to work behind the scenes, but that is not the role Lucy wants and Benton is not about to hold her back. She is a valuable member of his team and he takes full advantage of her skills in this book.

Overall, this was enjoyable murder mystery. There are currently 25 books in the series, so it is a daunting undertaking if you plan on reading the entire series. I have been reading these books since 2011. This isn't the type of series you have to continue reading for fear of forgetting some of the content, so I pick one up whenever I am looking for a good murder mystery. I enjoy the characters and both the police and medical aspects of the investigations. I do find it humorous to read about some of the technology now that these books are almost 25 years old. What was high tech and advanced back then is archaic now. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Review: The Queen by Kiera Cass

Goodreads Overview:

Before America Singer's story began, another girl came to the palace to compete for the hand of a different prince….

Don't miss this digital original novella set in the captivating world of Kiera Cass's #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series. This prequel story takes place before the events of The Selection and is told from the point of view of Prince Maxon's mother, Amberly. Discover a whole new Selection with this inside look at how Maxon's parents met—and how an ordinary girl named Amberly became a beloved queen.


After reading this novella it is hard to understand how Prince Maxon's father turned out the way he did. He was actually a very likable character in this story. His parents weren't the best role models and I believe it was his mother who may have set the poor example he eventually emulated.

I enjoyed learning more about Amberly and her selection process. She wasn't as strong and polished as  she was in the Selection series. She came from a farming background and her family was poorer than their class rank implied. In addition, the conditions in the region where she lived often lead to illness. For years Amberly suffered from headaches as a result, but she discovers the effects may be greater than she imagined. As much as she wants to marry the prince, she doesn't know how she will ever be able to compete. It was interesting to see what qualities appealed to Prince Clarkson and why she was eventually chosen.

This is a quick read and a nice addition to the series. While it isn't essential to the overall story, I would recommend reading it if you have read the rest of the series. I downloaded the ebook from the library, so it didn't cost me anything to get a glimpse into what life was like at the palace before Maxon was in the picture. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Review: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown


My husband rowed in high school and college and still rows as an adult. I tried it for a few years and could definitely relate to the grueling schedule and workouts involved, even at a lower level of competition. My husband read the adult version of this book and really enjoyed it, so my 14 year old son and I read this YA version as one of his choice books for school.

The story begins with Joe Rantz as an old man telling his story to Daniel James Brown, who decides he would like to write a book about Joe.  Joe tells him the story shouldn't be about him, but needs to be about "the boat." Brown is a little confused because he believes Joe is talking about the rowing shell or the crew, but he is actually referring to something that is almost beyond definition. "The boat" was a shared experience when 9 men came together to achieve greatness.

Rowing had a long history in the Ivy league where wealthy young men enjoyed competing in this prestigious sport. Joe was not as fortunate. He was poor and worked hard to attend the University of Washington where he hoped to earn an engineering degree and improve his quality of life.  He had enough money to pay for his first year of college, but needed to make the rowing team if he wanted any chance of having enough money to finish his degree. The team ended up consisting of mostly young men like him. They were strong, hard working, and determined to work through the pain to achieve a goal.

The story isn't just about rowing. It teaches a number of life lessons while sharing some of the many struggles that took place during the depression. The book also explores what it was like in Nazi Germany before and after the 1936 Olympics. Hitler put on a remarkable show for the general public, but what was going on behind the scenes was deplorable and ultimately lead to the start of the second world war.

This is a very motivational story that people of all ages can learn from. It is about overcoming obstacles, perseverance, and teamwork. These working class boys with no prior experience were able to achieve greatness by putting their teammates ahead of themselves. “What mattered more than how hard a man rowed was how well everything he did in the boat harmonized with what the other fellows were doing. And a man couldn’t harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them. He had to care about his crew.”

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Review: Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

The Kranks' daughter, Blair, leaves for the Peace Corp. and for the first time ever, will not be home for Christmas. Luther, an accountant, went through all of his receipts from the prior year and discovered exactly how much Christmas cost them last year...and what did they have to show for it? Why not spend half as much and enjoy a luxurious Caribbean cruise since it is just the two of them this year?

It sounds like a great idea until word begins to spread. The neighbors are upset because their street likely will not win the decorating contest since one house will not have a giant Frosty on the roof. Various charities arrive and the Kranks have to tell them they are skipping Christmas this year. Friends are disappointed they will not be hosting their annual Christmas Eve Party. Coworkers can't believe they will not be at the office party. Even their pastor is disappointed to hear they will not be at the Christmas Eve service. 

Everywhere they go they are reminded of the frivolousness of the season and Luther is pleased with his decision. His wife, on the other hand, is tired of all of the grief and wants to give in to a few requests, but Luther stands firm. No Christmas this year!!

Everything is going reasonably well until they receive a call from Blair on Christmas Eve. She is in Miami  and will be home in a few hours to surprise them for Christmas. Of course, she is expecting a big holiday party, a tree, Frosty on the roof, and a wonderful Christmas meal. Will the Kranks be able to pull together a traditional Christmas in less than a day?

This was an entertaining and hilarious holiday story and definitely put the season into perspective. How much do people really spend on a holiday, which is supposed to be about celebrating the birth of Jesus? Is it really worth all of the time, energy and effort we put into it every year? It isn't about the money or the gifts. It is about the tradition and spending time with friends and family. The Kranks learn this lesson in a rather amusing way and I'm sure will not try Skipping Christmas ever again.