http://suzanneredfearn.com

Opinionated? About book covers? Vote & win a $50 B&N gift card from author Suzanne Redfearn!

Last year I read an AHHHMAZING debut novel called Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn. I am STILL beating people about the head and face with this book. I think I’ve made all of my friends read it.  Suzanne has a new book scheduled to hit bookstores in 2106 (i’m already excited to read it) and she needs our help!

http://suzanneredfearn.com

http://suzanneredfearn.com

FOUR-YEAR-OLD Molly Martin is as cute as they come. With her
 
mop of curls and precocious personality, it’s no wonder the crowd fell in
 
love with her when she stepped forward to do an impromptu jig with
 
a street musician in Santa Monica. But when a YouTube video of
 
her performance goes viral, it turns into another thing altogether.
Swept into the vortex of Hollywood, Molly’s star rises at lightning
 
speed, straight to the pinnacle of stardom, as the world falls completely
 
in love with her. At first it seems like the family has hit the jackpot–
 
fame, fortune, opportunity–but when the reality of their new life
 
settles in, the dark trappings of celebrity are revealed and their world
 
begins to splinter apart.
Molly’s mom struggles to hold it together, but when her ex-husband
 
appears to cash in on the action, and Molly’s older sister, Emily, finds
 
herself on the fast track to trouble, things begin to unravel. And in a
 
business where everyone is an actor and every move you make is
 
scrutinized by the world, it is difficult to know who to trust. Becoming
 
famous was easy, becoming unfamous will require the performance
 
of a lifetime.

This book has two titles and four covers. Which is best? Visit Suzanne’s website to cast your vote and be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Deadline is 12/21/14 and is open internationally.

ng2015_challenge

Going hardcore ya’ll… for the 2015 NetGalley Reading Challenge at Fictively.com!

2014 was a banner year for reading, specifically for reading eGalleys from NetGalley. My count so far is 41 books in this year’s challenge and I am reading two more as I type. I hope to top 45 this year so…woohoo! My ratio right now is just over 50%, which is FANTASTIC because it was abysmal at the start of 2014.  The recommended ratio is 80% so I am going to be spending 2015 getting to that number. I’ve got some great galleys to get me there!

So this is my post for 2015’s challenge!

2015netgalleychallenge

I’ve chosen the HARDCORE level, since I read a lot and 40 books was no challenge at all for this year.

As always I’ll track my progress via a Goodreads list and along the side panel.  Once a quarter, we update at Fictively.com and enter a drawing for prizes. Want to join? Head on over to Fictively and jump right in!

Fictively

And if you’re interested in reading books and yapping about them before their publication date, head on over to NETGALLEY and sign right up! Some great books coming out in 2015. I’m so spoiled by being able to read some of my favorite authors before anyone else!

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[Review] The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard

The Fragile World Book Cover The Fragile World

Literary Fiction
Mira
October 28, 2014
eBook
432
NetGalley

From the author of publishing sensation The Mourning Hours comes a powerful new novel that explores every parent's worst nightmare… 

The Kaufmans have always considered themselves a normal, happy family. Curtis is a physics teacher at a local high school. His wife, Kathleen, restores furniture for upscale boutiques. Daniel is away at college on a prestigious music scholarship, and twelve-year-old Olivia is a happy-go-lucky kid whose biggest concern is passing her next math test. 

And then comes the middle-of-the-night phone call that changes everything. Daniel has been killed in what the police are calling a "freak" road accident, and the remaining Kaufmans are left to flounder in their grief. 

The anguish of Daniel's death is isolating, and it's not long before this once-perfect family finds itself falling apart. As time passes and the wound refuses to heal, Curtis becomes obsessed with the idea of revenge, a growing mania that leads him to pack up his life and his anxious teenage daughter and set out on a collision course to right a wrong. 

An emotionally charged novel, The Fragile World is a journey through America's heartland and a family's brightest and darkest moments, exploring the devastating pain of losing a child and the beauty of finding healing in unexpected ways. 

There’s so much to this book, I almost wanted to flip back to the beginning and read it cover to cover again. The Fragile World is beautifully written, so deep and emotive, with raw and real emotions. Paula Treick DeBoard never shies away from the gripping truth within and between her characters.

In 2008, our family lost my youngest brother. He was 22, funny and bright and the accident that took him was so senseless and ridiculous. I’ve so often wished I could go back in time and change the past so he could still be here with us. The tidal wave of emotion that comes after the earthquake of tragedy still ripple through our family. Each of us is forever changed by his sudden, heart wrenching loss. It is with this familiar feeling that I read while biting my fingernail to the nub, of the Kaufman family.

Daniel, child music prodigy and generally the most favorite family member is ripped from life in a freak accident. Almost immediately, I felt as if his mother, Kathleen, shied away from having to deal with the aftermath. She makes Curtis travel to retrieve the body, to deal with the arrangements, to talk to the police. Curtis, on his own, has to stifle his own feelings of grief to move forward. Deep within him, a rage begins to simmer.

By the time that rage explodes, so much has changed– Kathleen no longer lives with the family and younger Olivia suffers from debilitating anxiety, which is only temporarily abated by keeping a meticulous journal of things that scare her, random every day occurrences that could go terribly wrong and take her loved ones away from her.

When Curtis hears that Daniel’s killer– the drunk driver that drove the car that hit the stop sign that fell over onto Daniel– has been released from prison, he decides to mete out the form of justice that would be fair to Daniel. It’s the only way to make the world spin the right way again.

What I enjoyed about this story is how close Curtis and Olivia are– and become in the days leading up to the grim task. Following Curtis’ small mental break, the two set out on roadtrip to visit Kathleen in Oklahoma. The series of poignant and meaningful Daddy-Daughter moments were touching, even when they were cross with each other. Olivia didn’t like to be apart from him. He gave her comfort and made her feel safe and in Curtis’ eyes, he simply had ONE task that would make her feel eternally safe.

The events that close the book puzzle me, however. How Kathleen ends up being the one to take on the heavy burden and how Curtis let her do so… I didn’t see a justification for it. Was he punishing her for basically trying to push Daniel’s death under a rug? For making him deal with the details of life after death?  For leaving the family?

Or did Kathleen feel like it was her duty to take that burden from Curtis?

Wherever those answers lie,it doesn’t change my opinion that The Fragile World is an excellent read– deeply moving, paced well, poetically written. I truly enjoyed it!

books

[Review] Five Minutes Alone by Paul Cleave

Five Minutes Alone Book Cover Five Minutes Alone
Christchurch Noir Crime Series

Fiction
Simon and Schuster
October 21, 2014
ebook
464
NetGalley/ Simon & Schuster

In the latest thriller by the Edgar-nominated author of Joe Victim, someone is helping rape victims exact revenge on their attackers, prompting an edge-of-your-seat, cat-and-mouse chase between old friends, detectives Theodore Tate and Carl Schroder. Carl Schroder and Theodore Tate, labeled “The Coma Cops” by the media, are finally getting their lives back into shape. Tate has returned to the police force and is grateful to be back at home with his wife, Bridget. For Schroder, things are neither good nor bad. The bullet lodged in his head from a shooting six months ago hasn’t killed him, but—almost as deadly—it’s switched off his emotions. When the body of a convicted rapist is found, obliterated by an oncoming train, Tate works the case, trying to determine if this is murder or suicide. The following night, the bodies of two more rapists surface. It’s hard to investigate when everyone on the police force seems to be rooting for the killer. There’s a common plea detectives get from the loved ones of victims: When you find the man who did this, give me five minutes alone with him. And that’s exactly what someone is doing. Someone is helping these victims get their five minutes alone. But when innocent people start to die, Tate and Schroder find themselves with different objectives, and soon they’re battling something they never would’ve expected—each other. “Ferocious storytelling that makes you think and feel,” says The Listener (New Zealand). Smart, funny, and breathlessly suspenseful, Five Minutes Alone takes the definition of “crime thriller” to a whole new level.

“Are we on the same page?”

I’m having trouble coming up with words to describe how perfect I think this novel is.For my money, Paul Cleave is utter perfection. His latest novel, Five Minutes Alone, is yet another five star read in a long line of four and five star reads.

I so appreciate the level of detail that Cleave takes his novels, and yet they seem to fly by so quickly. I’m not buried in minutiae, I’m engrossed in the story. I’ve been waiting for the return of Tate for a couple of books now, so it was nice to see a familiar face, so to speak. I’ve also been wondering what was up with Bridget, who’s just awakened from a vegetative state, and I had forgotten that  (spoiler) Schroder was shot in Joe Victim.

The return of the love/hate relationship between Schroder and Tate is the thread that ties this novel together. Tate has returned to the police force following a short stint in a coma himself; Schroder, due to the bullet in his brain that can’t be removed, that will probably kill him, can’t work. When rapists and murderers start coming up dead, Tate knows immediately who’s responsible… but he’s never going to give him up. He can’t. This person knows too much about him and could destroy him, and he’s just getting back on his feet. And oh, by the way, Bridget has some news.

Tate’s job, throughout this novel, is to solve the case… without solving the case. Which is difficult when his partner Rebecca is whipsmart. Tate needs to stay a step ahead of everyone, including the Killer, who’s been granting victims of crime what they’ve always wanted: “Give me five minutes alone with him.”

I’d like to thank Simon & Shuster/Atria Publishing for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this fantastic novel. If you enjoy fast paced, gritty thrillers and you’ve never read Paul Cleave before, beg/borrow/buy everything he’s ever written. Start at the beginning. You won’t regret it!

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[Review] XL Love: How the Obesity Crisis Is Complicating America’s Love Life

XL Love-How the Obesity Crisis Is Complicating America's Love Life Book Cover XL Love-How the Obesity Crisis Is Complicating America's Love Life

Social Science
Rodale Books
August 19, 2014
256

With two out of every three Americans overweight or obese, it’s all hands on deck—scientists are studying how excess fat changes physical and mental health, demographers are calculating how it’s shortening life spans, and economists are debating the impact it has on America’s productivity and global competitiveness. But how weight affects intimacy and sexuality is barely discussed. Yet it’s a question of high importance for the tens of millions of Americans who are overweight or obese and having difficulty sexually and romantically. It is changing and complicating the mating game and married life alike; stunting the ability of young people to find happiness; and tipping some heavy, but otherwise happy, couples into divorce. For many, a larger body has meant a more troubled mind: a decline in sexual quality, an increase in self-loathing, and a tendency to let these factors stand in the way of love. In XL Love, Varney travels the country and tells the personal stories of men and women who are experiencing what millions of others feel every day, along with the stories of those who are in the business of helping them: physicians, researchers, scientists, psychologists, sociologists, and more. Analytic and immersive, personal and eye-opening, XL Love tackles the question: How is sex changing in America as the shape of Americans changes?

I’m not much for non fiction… if I read it, I have to sit down and read the entire book in one sitting. I’m never going back to it later. Doing that with XL Love was no problem. I have highlights on every page. I nodded and mmhmmm’d through every story, seeing myself and my life throughout the pages of this book. And I agree with a reviewer on Amazon that said reading this book was like reading the transcript of a really interesting episode of This American Life.The author intersperses some beautiful, descriptive writing around anecdotes from people who are overweight and want to lose weight. Coupled with the stories is the science behind weight loss, sex and obesity.

I was drawn to this book by a recent snippet posted at Salon.com about dating after weight loss, being concerned about your partner wanting you after either being refused for so long while your libido went dormant, or because you have so much loose skin as to actually feel uncomfortable and unattractive. There is a phenomenon, which Varney writes about called The Whore Syndrome, in which a person presented with so many new choices doesn’t know which one to choose and so, eager and energetic, they choose them all. This happens frequently after weight loss surgery, when a patient might be feeling new found confidence, attractiveness and a return to lustful thoughts and feelings.

I was most interested in the section on teens- what’s considered fat vs thick among black girls vs white girls and black boys vs white, Latino and Asian boys. Forming relationships at a young age helps us mature into healthy young adults, but 2 of every 6 Americans being obese affects this rite of passage. Everything from the shallow attitudes of teen boys (even those who are heavy themselves saying NFC– NO FAT CHICKS) to risky behaviors that heavy teen girls might engage in. Are fat girls really easy?

Varney explores this, in depth. I found her description of a college girl with normal self esteem being destroyed after going away to school to find that men valued her less and felt she deserved someone less attractive because she was overweight. I, too, would fall for a young man– even an average looking young man and just when I thought he might reciprocate, he asked me for a phone number for one of my thinner, pretty, whatever-er friends. That’s a tough lesson to learn and hard to UNlearn.

She goes further to discuss weight gain and loss and how it affects marriages. What does it mean when a husband or a wife loses weight? Is the need to lose weight not simply about healthy but inherently tied to the desire to find a mate?

I find myself relating to so many of the stories in this book, specifically those about dating post extreme weight loss. I understand the science of attraction– people go for what they think they can get and either they think very highly of themselves or they’re self aware enough to ‘stay in their lane’. So when a person feels like they could attract someone good looking… but they don’t… *sigh* I was hoping to read some anecdotes about a person that had to look past dropping a ton of weight to find love and happiness. Those that had post weight loss intimacy issues were already married or dating.

This book is only six chapters long but six LONG chapters. She covered so much and yet I felt she could have covered more. I could have done with a few breaks but over all this was an incredibly enjoyable, entertaining and educational book.

View all my reviews