Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review | The Last Girl by Joe Hart

BOOK REVIEW | THE LAST GIRL

cover74018-mediumTITLE: The Last Girl (A Dominion Trilogy, Book 1)

AUTHOR: Joe Hart

PUBLISHER: Thomas & Mercer

RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2016

GENRE: Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction (Adult)

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | INDIEBOUND

A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.

Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.

Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war. (Description from NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

Are there times when you feel like you’re in a prison? When you feel like you have no control of what’s going to happen to you? Zoey (who has no clue what her last name is) has been a prisoner of a facility known as the ARC the majority of her life. She’s only allowed to eat certain foods, read certain books, and has to abide by the rules or be punished. All this because she’s one of the few young girls left in the world. They take these young girls from their families and take away their freedom.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Last Girl. The first part of the book brings you into the ARC and what Zoey’s daily life is like. She’s escorted everywhere and has to stick to a schedule that includes wearing certain outfits, communal eating, and doing laundry. Her life essentially is not her own.

The second part of the book details her escape from the ARC and her first few days of freedom in the world, but unfortunately doesn’t have time to enjoy it while they are searching for her and while she’s injured. Zoey encounters many many obstacles during her escape from hunger to running into men who want nothing more then to violate and sell her.

When I first started reading this book, I was siding more with the people running the ARC because these are the last few women on earth that might be able to produce a female birth. They are protected, fed, and have a space of their own, but as I continued to read I started to understand Zoey’s struggle. I can’t imagine not being able to decide what I get to do each day, what I get to eat, what I get to read, and who I can spend my time with. It’s not living which is part of what fueled Zoey to fight back.

When Zoey escapes from the ARC is when I really got into the book. The author made me feel Zoey’s pain when she was running away trying to stay alive.  I felt like my heart was beating with her’s with each man she killed for her freedom. It was like I was there experiencing it for myself. I thought about what would be going through my head seeing the wilderness for the first time while on the brink of death. Seeing the world for what it was rather then what was told to her. I’d be frightened just like she was. I’d be confused just like she was. I’d be angry.

The lead character, Zoey, is another aspect of the book that I loved. At first you think she’s just a small fragile girl that just continues to go through the motions, but she’s actually this very strong woman fighting for what she wants out of life and fighting for those she cares about. There are many times when a weak person might die, but she didn’t. She fought and fought hard.

Overall, I would highly recommend The Last Girl. It’s full of intense scenes that keep your heart pumping and it’s impossible to put down. It’s like you’re experiencing everything first hand. It’s a great thriller with a strong female lead that keeps you rooting for her until the end. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Joe Hart was born and raised in northern Minnesota, where he still resides today. He’s been writing horror and thriller fiction since he was nine years old. He is the author of five novels and numerous short stories, including the books The River Is Dark, Lineage, and The Waiting. When he’s not writing, Joe enjoys reading, working out, watching movies with his family, and spending time outdoors. (Bio found on www.joehartbooks.com).

Thank you to Joe Hart and Thomas & Mercer for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Follow Stories Unfolded on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook

Advertisements

Book Review | Strawberry and Sage by Amanda Gale

BOOK REVIEW | STRAWBERRY AND SAGE

511aWQEiKxL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_TITLE: Strawberry and Sage

AUTHOR: Amanda Gale

PUBLISHER: Brenda & Cobena Books

RELEASE DATE: July 15, 2015

GENRE: Women’s Fiction, Romance

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

A historical romance novella for readers of the Meredith series and new readers alike.

Set in 1967 in the lush mountains of Vermont, Strawberry and Sage is a tale of friendship, love, and the perfect strawberry pie.

Gabriel Kelly is a hard-working young carpenter carrying the weight of responsibility on his back. With his father injured on the job and his brother fighting in Vietnam, Gabriel struggles to stay positive. And with the possibility of being drafted looming over him, he can focus only on things that matter, like visiting the mountain, where he regains clarity, and cherishing his time with Abigail, the childhood friend with whom he’s always been in love.

Abigail Wheeler is a bright, ambitious college student who just knows she can change the world. Determined to make good use of opportunities her mother never had, she spends her time campaigning for women’s rights and planning for her future. Her own experiences have taught her that the world is full of promise. So when Gabriel confesses his heart, she is torn, unsure whether they’d be compatible even though she secretly loves him too.

In a tumultuous time when change is the only constant, Gabriel and Abigail long to find meaning and to find themselves. As their friendship is tested by wars both inside and out, they discover that the differences that had kept them apart are actually why they need each other most. (Description found on Amazon)

MY THOUGHTS

Amanda Gale has done it again with Strawberry and Sage making me adore her stories even more. This book is sort of a “prequel” to the Meredith Series books and tells the story of Gabriel Kelly and the love of his life, Abigail Wheeler. If you remember from the Meredith Series, Gabriel is the father of one of the men Meredith was with and ultimately married.

Strawberry and Sage has a different pace then the Meredith series that I think stems from the personalities of the characters and the time period they are in. Gabriel is somewhat of an introvert and has a hard time expressing his feelings and his feelings are quite strong for Abigail. These feelings haven’t changed since that day they were picking strawberries as children in her grandmother’s backyard.

I do love that the center of this love story revolves around pie…strawberry pie to be exact. Gabriel and Abigail’s love story isn’t some amazing fairytale and everything doesn’t just fall into place. It’s something that’s real with real world obstacles. In their case, the war is looming over Gabriel and he feels the need to be fighting along side his brother and fulfilling his duty to his country and protecting his family, but being the only man working in the family and the thought of leaving Abigail creates quite an internal struggle for him.

Strawberry and Sage is not your typical love story, but it’s still one that keeps you rooting for them to finally let their feelings for each other bloom and bring them together. I would highly recommend this book for those who enjoyed the Meredith series and who are women’s fiction fanatics like myself.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT AMANDA

10599584_523754897771342_4909773565129544750_n

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | GOODREADS | INSTAGRAM

A graduate of Vassar College and Boston University, Amanda Gale taught high school English before she began writing women’s fiction. She loves history, classic literature, and quiet nights at home. She lives outside Philadelphia with her family. (Photo Credit: Lisa Schaffer Photography)

Follow Stories Unfolded on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads

Book Review | When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker

BOOK REVIEW | WHEN I’M GONE

cover77538-mediumTITLE: When I’m Gone

AUTHOR: Emily Bleeker

PUBLISHER: Lake Union Publishing

RELEASE DATE: March 15, 2016

GENRE: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

PRE-ORDER LINKS: AMAZON

Dear Luke,
First let me say—I love you…I didn’t want to leave you…

Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.

The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep. (Description found on NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

Last night I couldn’t put this book down and ended up finishing it at 1am, but it was definitely worth losing a few hours of sleep. When I’m Gone is one of those books that made me “react” to things that would unfold and the twists and turns that were revealed. At one point my husband (who isn’t a reader) asked me why I have to react to everything in the book. When I say react (my fellow readers will know what I’m talking about), I mean gasps, sighs, and a little bit of commentary mixed in. I just looked at him and said “when it’s a really good book, you can’t help but react”. That’s what this book is.

When I first started reading this book, I thought it might be exactly like P.S. I Love You in reverse (wife dies and husband gets romantic love letters), but it’s so much more than that. The letters Luke Richardson receives aren’t even that romantic and has much more to focus on then just his wife passing away. He has three kids to take care of and he has to deal with knowing that his wife kept a very big secret from him that brings up unwanted memories from his past.

Here’s a quote that I think will tell you more about the plot without giving away anything:“The only positive thing about dying is knowing I won’t have to see your face when you find out all the reasons you should hate me. Maybe that’s my final gift – when you find out all my secrets, you’ll be glad I’m gone.”

There was a point in the book when I thought I knew what was going to happen, but I was pleasantly surprised that I couldn’t predict everything. I really enjoyed those twists and turns I mentioned. Emily Bleeker really knew how to keep you interested and I couldn’t wait to figure out who was sending the letters and what his wife’s secret was.

Overall, I would highly recommend When I’m Gone. It’s a riveting novel about love, loss, and explores the thought that you might not know the people close to you as well as you thought. It keeps you guessing and keeps you wanting more.

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

emily-10

Emily lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and four kids. Between writing and being a mom, she attempts to learn guitar, sings along to the radio (loudly), and embraces her newfound addiction to running.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing for providing a copy of this book for an honest review.

Follow Stories Unfolded on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Book Review | Meredith Into the Fire by Amanda Gale

BOOK REVIEW | MEREDITH INTO THE FIRE

10006997_460430227437143_2048026878112665492_nTITLE: Meredith Into The Fire, Book #3

AUTHOR: Amanda Gale

PUBLISHER: Brenda & Cobena Books

RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2014

GENRE: Women’s Fiction, Romance

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

Ever optimistic, Meredith has never given up hope that she’d recapture perfection. However, experience has taught her how easily her world can fall apart. Having endured enough losses, in Book Three, Meredith Into the Fire, she resolves that it will never happen again.

They’ve been crossing paths for over a year. Now fate seems to throw Meredith together with Shane Thayer, an aspiring celebrity chef with an odd sense of humor and a volatile temper. Struggling to make a name for himself and to satisfy the ambitions of his overbearing parents, Shane seems a far cry from the security for which Meredith yearns. But she is tired of following the same path, and she is anxious for her search to be over. Against the advice of her friends and family, to whom it is obvious that Shane is all wrong for her, Meredith sprints toward what she convinces herself is stability. Unfortunately, her attempt to take control of her life only brings her more chaos.

With tension at her job mounting and her unstable relationship rushing toward an unknown conclusion, Meredith makes a desperate grasp for control as her life crumbles around her. As her journey culminates in a dramatic explosion, will she settle for Shane or will she find what she is truly looking for?” (Description from Amazon)

MY THOUGHTS

Meredith Into The Fire is a classic case of settling and feeling defeated. If you’ve read books one and two, then you know that Meredith has already gone through two breakups that tore her heart apart. That’s why she pretty much gave up the search for the perfect man because she’s convinced that he’s unattainable and doesn’t exist. Then she starts dating Shane Thayer.

This book really brings the character crashing down and you see her making terrible choices and convincing herself that it’s what she really wants. Her new love interest comes from a wealthy family and is quite the spoiled entitled “brat” if you ask me. She’s exactly what his parents don’t want for their son and that becomes clear during Meredith’s interactions with them. There may have been times when Shane seemed to love Meredith, but his actions contradict that and later you find out why he decided to be with Meredith.

The whole situation made me sad for Meredith. She just couldn’t see what Shane was doing and what his true motive was for wanting to be with her. Thankfully she finds out towards the end, but not until they are literally about to walk down the isle.

Overall, this was a great addition to the Meredith series. I would suggest you read the series from the beginning before reading Meredith Into The Fire, that way you understand why she’s making those terrible decisions.

You can check out my reviews of the first two books here: Meredith Out of Darkness & Meredith Against the Wind

FAVORITE QUOTES

“But the most important lesson Meredith had learned was that one never knew what the future would bring; one never could predict the motives in another person’s heart, not matter how close — and that thought gave Meredith hope.”

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

ABOUT AMANDA

10599584_523754897771342_4909773565129544750_n

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | GOODREADS | INSTAGRAM

A graduate of Vassar College and Boston University, Amanda Gale taught high school English before she began writing women’s fiction. She loves history, classic literature, and quiet nights at home. She lives outside Philadelphia with her family. (Photo Credit: Lisa Schaffer Photography)

Book Review | Between Worlds by Jacqueline Smith

BOOK REVIEW | BETWEEN WORLDS

Between Worlds Cover VER01TITLE: Between Worlds (Cemetery Tours Book 2)

AUTHOR: Jacqueline Smith

PUBLISHER: Wind Trail Publishing

RELEASE DATE: June 29, 2014

GENRE: Paranormal Thriller

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

“Someone always dies… Someone is always left behind… Now that his secret is out, Michael Sinclair finally agrees to join paranormal superstar Luke Rainer and the Cemetery Tours crew on an investigation. Not just any investigation. The biggest investigation of their career. Once home to the wealthy Sterling Hall and his beloved wife, Joanna, Stanton Hall Manor in Maine is famous for the love story that inspired it… and the ghosts who now inhabit it. For Luke and the crew, Stanton Hall is a dream come true. Unfortunately, some dreams turn out to be nightmares.” (Description from Amazon)

MY THOUGHTS

Between Worlds is the sequel to Jacqueline Smith’s Cemetery Tours. This book starts off pretty close to when the first one ended. Michael see ghosts, but now has some sort of pseudo-celebrity status. As with anyone who says they can see or speak with ghosts, Michael found himself being ostracized for his abilities. He lost his job. Kate’s parents wanted her to have nothing to do with him.

The upside is that there were people who believed him, but they always wanted his help. So instead of keeping to himself like he did in Cemetery Tours he was going on talk shows (not that he was comfortable doing it) and people knew who he was. At times, it seemed like he missed the solitude, especially when ghosts would seek him out for help.

When Michael was let go from yet another job he decided to finally take up Luke Rainer’s offer and be a part of his hit television show Cemetery Tours. That’s when they wind up at Sterling Hall to investigate the story behind the ghost who might be roaming the house. It’s this ghost who puts everyone’s lives in danger, especially Kate’s, so it’s up to Michael to help the ghost move on.

Overall, I loved Between Worlds. It’s great being able to read another “adventure” about characters I enjoy. I feel this series can have multiple books associated with it and thats exactly what Jacqueline Smith is working on. I can’t wait to read more about Michael and his ability to see and speak with ghosts. It’s the only paranormal series I’ve actually been interested in and I can’t wait to read the next books in the series.

FAVORITE QUOTES

“Real love meant loving the whole person, in every form, in every state, in every way. It was what transformed the ordinary monotony of everyday life into extraordinary moments of warmth and compassion and joy.”

“Unfortunately, he’d also come to learn that life was rarely every that simple. It wasn’t like a movie where the credits rolled after all the conflicts had been resolved or a book wrapping up its story on the final page. The story of a human life never ended, not even in death. But really, that was a good thing.”

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

ABOUT JACQUELINE

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | BLOG | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Smith_Jackie-1732

Jacqueline E. Smith was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She attended the University of Texas at Dallas, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Art and Performance in 2010. Two years later, she earned her Master’s Degree in Humanities.

Along with writing and publishing, Jacqueline loves photography, traveling, and nature.  (Photo Credit: Kaylynn Krieg)

 

 

Follow Stories Unfolded on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads

Book Review | What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

BOOK REVIEW | WHAT WAS MINE

9781476732350_p0_v3_s192x300TITLE: What Was Mine

AUTHOR: Helen Klein Ross

PUBLISHER: Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books

RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2016

GENRE: Women’s Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | GOOGLEPLAY | INDIEBOUND | BAM!

Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.

Lucy Wakefield is a seemingly ordinary woman who does something extraordinary in a desperate moment: she takes a baby girl from a shopping cart and raises her as her own. It’s a secret she manages to keep for over two decades—from her daughter, the babysitter who helped raise her, family, coworkers, and friends.

When Lucy’s now-grown daughter Mia discovers the devastating truth of her origins, she is overwhelmed by confusion and anger and determines not to speak again to the mother who raised her. She reaches out to her birth mother for a tearful reunion, and Lucy is forced to flee to China to avoid prosecution. What follows is a ripple effect that alters the lives of many and challenges our understanding of the very meaning of motherhood.

Author Helen Klein Ross, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, weaves a powerful story of upheaval and resilience told from the alternating perspectives of Lucy, Mia, Mia’s birth mother, and others intimately involved in the kidnapping. What Was Mine is a compelling tale of motherhood and loss, of grief and hope, and the life-shattering effects of a single, irrevocable moment. (Description from NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

As soon as I started reading What Was Mine, I became engrossed by it and could’t put it down. I don’t have children yet, but I feel that What Was Mine still had the same affect on me as it would to a mother. It would be truly devastating for my child to be kidnapped. This book also made me think about how I’d feel towards the person who kidnapped by child. I’d be thankful that he/she wasn’t harmed, but I’d definitely be angry about the amount of time that was stolen from me. I hope I’d follow Marilyn’s example and think about my son or daughter and how they feel about the situation. It’d be difficult, but sometimes you have to look at the big picture and what is best for your child.

What Was Mine is told in several different perspectives, mostly by the main characters Lucy Wakefield (the kidnapper), Mia Wakefield (the kidnapped child), and Merilyn Featherstone (the biological mother). There are a few supporting character perspectives sprinkled in that were an interesting addition, but if removed, they wouldn’t change much of the plot.

The most interesting aspect of reading What Was Mine is that I felt sorry for Lucy Wakefield, who was essentially a child abductor. In everyday life, if I see a kidnapping story on the news, I tell myself “that person needs to go to prison”, but I didn’t feel that way with Lucy. She was a woman who couldn’t have children in any way and her desire for a child got the best of her causing her to kidnap Mia. I felt sorry for her during several points in the book.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. Even though it’s a women’s fiction book, sometimes it felt like a suspense novel because I was always wondering if she’d be caught.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Helen is a former creative director at top ad agencies in New York who spent over 20 years in the ad business before turning to other kinds of fiction. Her stories, poems and essays have been published by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The New Yorker. (Found on Helen’s website).

Thank you to the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Follow Stories Unfolded on Instagram, TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads

Book Review & Giveaway | With Every Breath by Lia Riley

BOOK REVIEW | WITH EVERY BREATH

cover73778-mediumTITLE: With Every Breath

AUTHOR: Lia Riley

PUBLISHER: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

RELEASE DATE: December 29, 2015

GENRE: New Adult

PRE-ORDER LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | iBOOKS | KOBO

BREATHE DEEP . . . AND JUMP IN

At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It’s also the last spot a “play-it-safe girl” like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she’ll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.

After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it’s up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can’t resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn’t enough.

Auden and Rhys soon learn there are no shortcuts as they navigate their way between life, death, and atonement, and discover something they never expected-love. (Description found from NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

Do you like rugged men? Do you like outdoorsy men? Do you feel like you might need more adventure in your life? Well, With Every Breath by Lia Riley is packed full of adventure, regret, redemption, love, and of course…a sexy mountaineer. Every new book I read of Lia’s makes me more of a fan and she’s getting another thumbs up from me on this one.

The story is told in the perspective of Auden Woods and Rhys MacAskill. Auden is a girl that isn’t known to take risks, but when there’s a chance for her to land a job with a popular magazine she steps out of her shell in a big way. She decides to write a story about climbers braving the La Aguja in Patagonia by going there herself. That’s how she ends up meeting Rhys in a way that forces her to take her clothes off…but it’s not what you’re thinking.

Rhys is quite a mysterious character and the exact opposite of Auden. He lives on the edge and gets his kicks climbing dangerous mountains. You can tell that he keeps a lot to himself and has a hard time opening up to other’s, but his past haunts him and is one of the reasons he pushes people away.

The book didn’t end the way I thought it would, but the ending gave it more emotion and added more to Rhys character.

Overall, I loved With Every Breath. It had the right amount of romance, adventure, and drama to keep my attention and left me wanting more. If you get a chance to read the book please let me know what you think.

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Lia Riley_Photo Credit Kitti Homme2After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, Lia Riley scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

Thank you to Lia Riley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Follow Stories Unfolded on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads

%d bloggers like this: