Book Review: In Case You Missed It by Sarah Darer Littman

in-case-you-missed-itIn Case You Missed It
Sarah Darer Littman
Scholastic Press, October 2016
ISBN: 978-0-545-90437-7
Hardcover

What teen doesn’t privately criticize their friends? After all, they’re going through major changes that are accompanied by mood swings, major insecurity and self-doubt. In other words, mental squirrel-cage territory. What they don’t expect is every single one of their thoughts, crushes, annoyances and feelings to be hijacked and posted online where everyone affected can see and react, not to mention receiving a barrage of Twitter and Facebook snark from people they’ve never met.

Welcome to Sammy Wallach’s new reality. She’s psyched about the end of her junior year, doing things with her besties, getting her driver’s license and hoping to go to prom with Jamie Moss, the boy she’s drooled over for ages. Unfortunately, the bank her father manages has been picketed by some pretty aggressive protesters, who have now started camping next to the building. When Dad and the board call in police to remove them, someone hacks the bank’s computer system. What does this have to do with Sammy? She kept a diary on her laptop that was backed up on the family server. The hackers hit that as well and now everything she wrote about friends, her fantasies and even rules she broke when she and her two friends went to a club to see a band, something her parents had expressly forbidden, is now online for the world to read.

Add to that her realization, courtesy of some of her father’s emails now exposed, that her parents, who have been extremely strict, are far from perfect, and she’s not only humiliated, but very angry.

This is the point where the story could have turned totally cliché. Instead, the author pulls you alongside Sammy as she guts it out. In the process, she finds new and pretty cool friends, a boy much better than her crush, strength to deal with an unexpected family tragedy, a stronger and mutually respectful relationship with her younger brother and a realization that she survived what, at first, seemed unthinkable.

This is a great read for teens who like a quirky, but relatable story of teen disaster and family chaos. I’d suggest it to all libraries as an acquisition.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, October 2016.

Waiting On Wednesday (58)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Continue reading

Book Review: Seldom Traveled by Marilyn Meredith

seldom-traveledSeldom Traveled
Tempe Crabtree Mystery Series #15
Marilyn Meredith
Mundania Press, August 2016
ISBN 978-1-59426-433-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

The tranquility of the mountain community of Bear Creek is disrupted by a runaway fugitive, a vicious murderer, and a raging forest fire. Deputy Tempe Crabtree is threatened by all three.

One of the things that makes the Tempe Crabtree series by Marilyn Meredith so appealing is its setting in a mountain community where the issues facing law enforcement that can be common in urban areas are rather unique in a more rural environment. Certainly the fugitive seen near Bear Creek could have just as easily headed for a big city but he didn’t do so, meaning Tempe will have to deal with the situation along with…or, rather, in spite of…the dismissive Marshal Gallegos. Unfortunately, that isn’t all she has on her plate; a woman, Mariah Konstanzer, has gone missing from her family’s remote vacation home and is found murdered.

Detectives Morrison and Richards take control of the murder investigation but it isn’t long before Tempe is pulled in to assist and is soon interviewing a lengthy list of potential suspects. Before she can shorten the list, a third crisis erupts, a wildfire high on the mountain. Tempe races to warn residents to evacuate and it isn’t long before all three issues intersect.

Tempe is a deputy I’ve followed for years and, once again, she’s the diligent, thoughtful investigator I’ve come to expect as well as a caring wife and member of the Bear Creek community. For some reason, Tempe always gives me a sense of confidence that all will be right with the world when it’s all said and done and she pulls it off once again. I hope we won’t have to wait long for the next adventure.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2017.

Book Review (Audio): Anomalies by Sadie Turner and Colette Freedman

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Title: Anomalies
Authors: Sadie Turner & Colette Freedman
Publisher Print and Ebook: Select Books
  Print/Ebook Book Release Date: February 9, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:

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anomalies-audioAnomalies
Sadie Turner & Colette Freedman
Read by Lucinda Clare
Punch Audio/Sadie Turner & Colette Freedman, October 2016
Downloaded Unabridged Audio Book

From the authors—

In the future there is no disease. There is no war. There is no discontent. All citizens are complacent members of the Global Governance. But one summer is about to change everything.

Keeva Tee just turned 15. She’s about to make the trip to Monarch Camp to be imprinted with her intended life partner. But in her happy, carefree life in the Ocean Community, she hears whispers about “anomalies” – citizens who can’t be imprinted. When Keeva arrives at Monarch Camp, her worst nightmare becomes a reality – she is an anomaly. She begins to doubt everything she’s ever believed. What if freedom and individuality have been sacrificed for security?

When Keeva finds a warning carved under a bunk bed she begins to understand: nonconformity will be punished, dissent is not an option, insurgents will be destroyed.

I reviewed the print edition of this book in April 2016 {https://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/book-review-anomalies-by-sadie-turner-and-colette-freedman/} so I won’t go into the story again but, rather, focus this time on the audio aspects of the book. In case I really need to say so 😉 I wouldn’t have listened to the audio book if I didn’t really like the tale already.

An audio version of a book adds an element not present in other versions because the narrator is equally as important as the story. A terrific story can save a mediocre or poor narrator but, on the other hand, can be ruined by the wrong narrator or brought to new heights of appeal by the right one. I’ve listened (briefly) to some less than wonderful readers as well as a few I consider the tops and Lucinda Clare is very, very close to that level.

Ms. Clare has a pleasing tone with inflections that ease the listener into understanding the mood and personality of each character and she has clearly distinct voices for those characters. If I have any quibble at all, it’s that her voice is a little too mature to portray a 15-year-old girl but that’s truly minor. Keeva’s intelligence and curiosity, Calix’s confusion and Sobek’s callousness all come through easily but Ms. Clare doesn’t put all her efforts into evoking the characters.

As the story evolves, she ratchets up the tension and, as a result, my own senses were heightened beyond what I experienced when reading the print version. I felt the impact of each revelation as much as Keeva and Calix did and shared their emotions. In short, the audio edition of Anomalies is well worth the time (and cost) and I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying Ms. Turner’s and Ms. Freedman’s exciting story and Lucinda Clare’s narration.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2017.

About the Authors

Sadie TurnerSADIE TURNER is a Los Angeles-based producer and writer originally from Brighton, England, who works in business development with several Hollywood entrepreneurs. She has various projects in development, and also teaches yoga.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterInstagram

 

Colette FreedmanCOLETTE FREEDMAN– An internationally produced playwright with over 25 produced plays, Colette was voted “One of 50 to Watch” by The Dramatist’s Guild. Her hit musical “Serial Killer Barbie” can be heard here.

Her play Sister Cities was the hit of the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe and earned five star reviews:  It has been produced around the country and internationally, fifteen times including Paris (“Une Ville, Une Soeur”), Rome (“Le Quattro Sorelle”) and Australia.  It is next up in  Chicago August 2016. She wrote the film which is currently in post-production and stars Jacki Weaver, Alfred Molina, Jess Weixler, Stana Katic, Michelle Trachtenberg, Amy Smart, Troian Bellisario, Tom Everett Scott and Kathy Baker. She  has co-written, with international bestselling novelist Jackie Collins, the play “Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Lies”, which is gearing up for a National Tour.

In collaboration with The New York Times best selling author Michael Scott,  she wrote the thriller The Thirteen Hallows  (Tor/Macmillan). Her novel The Affair (Kensington) came out January 29, 2013. The play of the novel earned both critical and commercial success as it toured Italy February through May 2013. Her sequel novel The Consequences (Kensington) came out January 28, 2014. Her YA novel Anomalies (Select Books) came out February 9, 2016. She also co-wrote the film “And Then There Was Eve” which is currently in pre-production and begins principal photography May 2016.

Author Links:

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Book Review: Broke by Kaye George

broke-audioBroke
An Imogene Duckworthy Mystery #3
Kaye George
Read by Veronica Newton
Audible/Kaye George, August 2015
Downloaded Unabridged Audio Book

From the publisher—

Imogene Duckworthy, eager PI assistant, wants to be on her own. She finds a rental house where her four-year-old daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, and Drew’s pet pig, Marshmallow, are allowed. The rumors are that the house is haunted. It’s no rumor there’s a dead man in the bathtub when she inspects the house, though. A long-lost relative is the logical suspect, but can Immy let her Uncle Dewey be railroaded for a crime he, possibly, didn’t commit?

A number of years ago, I read a series of four books by Joan Coggins, first released around 1945, then re-published by Rue Morgue Press. These were set just a bit before and after World War Two and featured Lady Lupin, a scatterbrained and very wealthy young woman who married a vicar and who investigated local crimes. They were hilarious and kindly and, all these years later, they still stick in my mind as favorites. Imogene Duckworthy reminded me almost instantly of Lady Lupin and I can’t think of a more favorable comparison.

Immy is goofy and not especially suited to being a private investigator but she’s determined to make her own way in the world and detecting is what she wants to do. Her case this time begins in the falling-apart rental house in Texas she’s moved into with her little girl and Marshmallow, a loveable potbellied pig. Throw in the local cop, Deputy Ralph Sandoval, and the scene is ripe for figuring out how a dead body ended up in her bathtub and why anyone is interested in the old furniture left in the house.

Adding to the fun of this story is the voice of the narrator, Veronica Newton. Ms. Newton has a lively tone and she makes the different characters quite distinctive with the child’s being the only voice I didn’t care for. I haven’t listened to this narrator before but I’ll be happy to again.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2017.

Cover Reveal: As You Lay Sleeping by Katlyn Duncan

as-you-lay-sleeping

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Title: As You Lay Sleeping
Author: Katlyn Duncan
Publisher: HQ Digital

Publication Date: February 22, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult

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Synopsis

I did it all for you

Cara’s boyfriend is dead.

When fingers start pointing at her, she knows she’s
in more trouble than she originally thought.
Because Cara can see that something isn’t right.

As her carefully constructed life begins to crumble,
Cara isn’t sure who she is anymore.

But maybe that’s exactly what someone wants her to think…

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Goodreads

Pre-order Links:

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About the Author

katlyn-duncanKatlyn Duncan was born and raised in a small town in western Massachusetts. Her overactive imagination involved invisible friends, wanting to be a Disney Princess and making up her own stories. Her bibliophile mom always encouraged her love of reading and that stayed with her ever since. Even though she works full time in the medical field Katlyn has always made time for books, whether she is reading or writing them.

Katlyn now lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and adorable Wheaten Terrier and she is thrilled to finally share her stories with the world.

Author links:
Website Button     Twitter Button     Facebook Button     Goodreads Button 2

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Book Reviews: The Bid by Adrian Magson and Jacqueline by Jackie Minniti

the-bidThe Bid
A Cruxys Solutions Investigation #2
Adrian Magson
Midnight Ink Books, January 2017
ISBN: 978073875043
Trade Paperback

Modern warfare is a featured bit player in this novel of suspense. The story opens a window on a rich theme of warfare and crime in the coming twenty-first century and beyond. Indeed, one of the problems with the novel is the number of possibilities it raises for both criminals and law enforcement.

The target is no less than the President of the United States and the process of funding and carrying out the assassination is a clever idea rooted in very modern financial life. The author, an experienced British crime-novelist, has written over a dozen thrillers, most would be classed as spy or conspiracy thrillers. The action is tension-filled, mostly consistent and relentless. The writing is top-notch, the characters are mostly interesting and/or intriguing and the settings are appropriate.

A business consultant with operations in the US and overseas has a specialized insurance contract on his life. If he goes missing for a short period of time, unusually trained operatives go active, searching for the client and setting up protection for the client’s family. It sounds expensive and I wanted more explanation of the basis for the character, James Chadwick, to buy what must have been an expensive policy. The policy is administered by a company called Cruxys. This interesting security policy allows the writer to introduce a pair of company operatives who soon fly off to the US where most of the action takes place.

Over several chapters we learn that the company seekers, Ruth Gonzales and Andy Vasilk, have unusual and relevant training and employment backgrounds, including the ability to take lives when necessary to protect their employer and themselves. It is easy to see the range of possibilities for this free-wheeling pair to get into trouble and to rescue clients from a wide range of dangerous circumstances.

Were it not for the author’s penchant for slipping strong critical editorial commentary into the narrative voice from time to time, the pace of the novel would make this book truly a compelling page turner. One wonders if there is anything about American life he finds favor for. In spite of these asides, The Bid is enjoyable, attention-holding and well-worth the readers’ time.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, December 2016.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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jacquelineJacqueline
Jackie Minniti
Anaiah Press, July 2015
ISBN
Trade Paperback

Jacqueline Falna of the title is a French child, twelve years of age, living in Rennes, France. When the story opens, in 1943, she and her mother have just learned that her father, a French aviator, is missing in action. Now they must cope with poverty, the Nazi occupiers, the coming of American forces all while maintaining a semblance of normal chiildhood.

Jacqueline, bright, energetic, with all the attributes one hopes to observe in a daughter or niece, is desolated by the news, but holds to the thread of possibility that her father may have been captured and will one day, after the war return to their home in Rennes. When a nearby family of Jews is abruptly taken away, the boy, David, remains and is hidden by Jacqueline’s family with help from neighbors.

In a simple, straight-forward style, through the eyes of this twelve year old child, we follow her daily challenges to help her mother find food, keep themselves warm in the winter and for Jacqueline, school and church. The novel is written for a middle school audience but the author’s craft does not pander, assuming readers may occasionally have to struggle with the language and some of the more mature considerations.

This is a fine, realistic novel, very well balanced with tragedy, happiness and it will not only engage readers in this age range. It also provides a way for young people to learn something about World War Two on an important personal level. Finally, after reading the novel, you may want to remind yourself of the name of the author.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, July 2016.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.