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Review: Hit by Delilah Dawson

[ 1 ] May 29, 2015

hit book coverReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

High schooler Patsy Klein (yes, really) has just been given an unthinkable assignment: she must kill a list of ten people, or her mother will die. It’s a harsh reality that Patsy’s mother is one of the millions of Americans who’s taken on more debt than they can handle…and the nation’s biggest bank, Valor Savings, is erasing that debt in a horrifying manner. The person who’s contracted the debt has the choice to pay it back, be killed, or kill others in their same position. Patsy has decided to take on the killing for her mom.

I’m going to take a minute here to talk about how utterly ridiculous this plot is. So this banking conglomerate, Valor, is going out and KILLING the people who collectively owe them probably billions of dollars. Maybe it’s just me, but this makes less than no sense. If a person who owes you a lot of money is dead, how can you ever get back any money from them? This is, unless, I’m misunderstanding the whole plot, and somehow Valor automatically takes everything the person owns after they are dead–but this was NEVER mentioned in the book.

Looking past the plot, main character Patsy is just flat and emotionless to me. Understandably, she is nervous when she has to make her first kill, but after that the assassinations become kind of matter-of-fact to her, to the point where she even takes a shower and chills out in a man’s house after killing him. The killings themselves only become interesting to the plot when Patsy somewhat forcibly pieces together that all of the targets on her list have something to do with her. But, even by the end, the most intriguing thing about the book has not been unraveled.

There is a love interest, of course. Wyatt Beard goes to kill Patsy after finding out she was the one who killed his father. Inexplicably, they immediately like each other and become inseparable for the next few days. There is very, very little substance to their relationship, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are somehow making out before they know each other’s names. It even happens that not only did Patsy have to kill Wyatt’s dad, his older brother is also on her list! Even though Wyatt knows this, they continue together towards what can only be an ill fated end.

Hit was a miss on so many levels for me, and I am disappointed because it sounded like something new in the tired young adult genre. It seems that Hit is the first book in a series, but I’m pretty sure I will not be continuing this journey.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Agent Ai by Michael Wreford

[ 0 ] May 29, 2015

agent ai book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Kill with a Borrowed Knife: or Agent Ai is a spy thriller and takes place primarily in Russia, China and Hong Kong. George Quant is a journalist turned spy. He burned his bridges in Moscow and is in China, on the run from some very dangerous people.

When George arrives in China he is met by the correct people, who help him get settled and also immediately find him a job to do. It just so happens that a wife of an important party man may have some important information. They want Quant, now known as Ai, to try and get close to her and pump her for information.

It also turns out that Quant is on the run from the Russians because he stole from them. He snatched a person and the secret code he was writing. This also put his British handler (whom he was in love with) into a sticky place. Mostly because he didn’t deliver either of the items to her.

This was a decent book but George bugged me. Everyone seemed to think he was a great agent, but what I saw throughout the book was that he was a guy who just got lucky. He did have some talent and skill that kept him alive, but he didn’t seem to be able to stay out of trouble–even when he really should have been looking out for and expecting it to show up. He was captured three separate times and only one of them should have been a real surprise. His escapes were also mostly luck and had nothing to do with his personal abilities.

The plot was actually fairly intricate and for quite a bit of the book I was having a very hard time figuring out what was happening. The story was filled with flashbacks and they were very necessary for helping paint the picture that Quant found himself in. It was also mostly of his own making.  I didn’t rate this book very highly mostly because of the confusion for the first half of the book, and Quant’s general habit of poor decisions that when they worked out, made him look like a genius.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Michael Wreford. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Giveaway: The Husband Swap by Louisa Leontiades

[ 1 ] May 28, 2015

the husband swap book coverI have 1 copy of The Husband Swap: A True Story of Unconventional Love by Louisa Leontiades to give away!

Open internationally

About the book

Louisa and Gilles love each other. There’s a problem in paradise, though: their marriage is going nowhere. Together, they decide to explore polyamory, the idea that it’s possible to have more than one lover–and more than one love. They fall in love with another couple and, embarking on a life-changing course, try to make it work as a quad.

Their journey liberates them from the constraints of their unhappy marriage and propels them into a world where they embrace a new way of loving. But this liberation comes with a price. They are challenged in ways they didn’t expect, and the experiment takes them to a place they didn’t anticipate. They must learn to accept a new understanding of relationships, each other and themselves.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman

[ 1 ] May 28, 2015

keep it shut book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

In real life, I’m not a super chatty person, unless there is some kind of opinion involved. In that case, you better look out. I’m pretty sure I’m going to step on toes and stray into less than gracious territory. I could blame it on coming from a family of lawyers and parents that encouraged open ended dialogue; but when it comes down to kind speech or the lack thereof, I’m afraid I really can truly only blame myself. So, when I saw Karen Ehman’s Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All, I knew this book would probably benefit me.

The trouble with speech is that we often speak before we think. It actually takes quite a bit of time to slow down and process what other people are saying and respond in a way that is edifying and helpful. When we write, there is the delete button, but it doesn’t exist in speech. Once it’s out there, you can’t get words back. It is probably why so many of us need a little guidance in this area of life that we simply can’t avoid. Ehman does an excellent job of covering this topic in both a broad and narrow fashion. The topics she covers include communicating with family and friends, gossip, your digital tongue, and people pleasing. But intermixed are more important skills and habits that lead to gracious words. As important as speech is, she balances that area with the ability to listen well and the time we spend renewing our minds. But, where do we find guidance in this critical area?

The ultimate guide book for life is God’s Word, the Bible. Not surprisingly, it has a lot to say about our speech and the tongue. As it turns out, there is a direct correlation between time in the Word and what comes out of our mouths. Keep It Shut is simply packed with ideas on how to be more intentional in this area. Where does a busy mom find time to fit in time with God? What are the steps I need to think about before I open my mouth? What are some ways I can add positive speech to my day? These are just a few of the areas she covers. Full of inspiration, hope and stories, Ehman does a great job of providing guidance in a down to earth and humble way. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to gain more control of their words.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Zondervan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: After Dark by M. Pierce

[ 2 ] May 27, 2015

after dark book coverReviewed by Melanie Kline

After Dark by M. Pierce was one of the most difficult books I have ever read. It was a book that was easy to put down and extremely difficult to pick back up. I still haven’t finished the last few chapters and have, instead, chosen to call “uncle” and just write my review on the parts of the book that I did manage to get through.

After Dark reads like a bad porn movie. There is too much sex and too little storyline. It also didn’t help that I entered into the storyline in the third book of a series and had no idea as to what was going on. M. Pierce gave no hints, recaps, flashbacks or any indications as to what transpired in the first two books. We are only told that Matt Sky faked his own death, but is actually very much breathing and living with his girlfriend Hannah in this installment of the series.

While I’m no prude, I found the amount of sex in this novel to be extreme and unnecessary. From what I managed to force myself to read, I gleaned that that Hannah wants to marry Matt and while Matt finally proposes to her, he is keeping secrets from her and sees a therapist about them. The therapist suggests that he keep a journal about his secrets. When the secrets are revealed, they are only about his fondness for bondage and S & M and you guessed it, more sex.

I would only recommend this book to people who are looking for a change from the same old, sad, worn out porn movie as there is no storyline in this waste of time and paper. I was extremely disappointed in the amount of time that I put into reading it.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Daughter by Jane Shemilt

[ 2 ] May 27, 2015

the daughter book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Jenny lives a seemingly perfect life that shatters after her youngest daughter, Naomi, disappears and is presumed dead. Many months later, Jenny and her two remaining children and her husband are still plagued by what could have happened to Naomi. Life moves on as best as it can for the rest of them, but Jenny is haunted and begins to search for answers. As she goes through her daughter’s journal and attempts to decode the cryptic entries, a very different Naomi than the one Jenny knew begins to emerge.

The Daughter is the debut from newcomer Jane Shemilt, but unfortunately didn’t live up to my expectations. I found it neither as suspenseful nor as thrilling as the early buzz had led me to believe it would be. The narrative is very disjointed, flipping between 2009 (when Naomi disappears), 2010, and 2011. Although the chapters are labeled, I still on occasion found myself having to turn back the pages to find out where exactly in the timeline I was. I’m not a huge fan of novels that use this technique, especially when it’s supposed to be a thriller. Because it begins in 2011, we already know that no one knows what happened to Naomi, and are stuck with the ramblings of her devastated mother.

Jenny struck me as an uninvolved parent; she didn’t seem to have a great relationship with any of her children. It wasn’t only Naomi that had secrets. It later comes out that one of her sons was indirectly involved in the disappearance, and had she been more attuned to her children, she may have been able to intervene.

The pacing felt slow to me, and when the truth finally comes out regarding what happened to Naomi in 2009, it felt a bit out there. I wish the author had let the reader get to know Naomi as well, possibly through flashbacks written in the third person point of view. If that had been the case, I think perhaps I could have accepted the reveal with more ease.

While I definitely cannot recommend The Daughter, I am sure it will spark the interest of some readers— especially those who are interested in slower-paced mysteries, disjointed timelines, and stream of consciousness narrators.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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