Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Apollo 13 meets Castaway in this grippingly detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller-set on the surface of Mars.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him-and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive-and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills-and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit-he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

I can't believe how this book engaged me. I really didn't expect it and pretty much skimmed the scientific, botanist stuff about growing potatoes. And yet. I don't know how or when it happened but I got hooked and addicted. Mark is a modern day McGyver. He's an engineer and a botanist. He's all science and a problem solver. His initial survival was explained in terms I understood despite the fact that it contained biology, physics, and chemistry. See, he was headed to the shuttle with another crew member when he was hit by debris. His suit read that he was dead so the crew made the decision to bug out before the dust storm killed the other five.

But Mark woke up after a short stint of unconsciousness. He and his suit had been pierced by an antenna which created a vacuum, robbing him of positive pressure and the correct gasses to breathe. But since the antenna also pierced his flesh, he bled. The vacuum and the tilt which he landed created a seal in his suit which, when combined with the atmosphere on Mars, dehydrated which created a solid seal. His suit adjusted for the pressure and oxygen, filtered out the CO2 and he trudged back to the shuttle. But it was gone.

Mark keeps a log of his doings. It completely fascinated me. There is the science of the atmosphere, the geology, definitely chemistry, and humor. I bookmarked some of the antics and logs just because they made me laugh out loud while my husband slept. Which he didn't appreciate.

Is it scientifically sound? Don't know. It was sound enough for a college graduate who did not major in science. Mark Watney counts Mars days and enters then as Sols which I assume means solar rotation, or rather, rotations around the sun. Mars' sol is 24 hours and 40 minutes thus he can't really call them days because he's still an earthling.

Admittedly, there were times I forgot I wasn't reading a real story about a man left behind in the vein of Apollo13. It was that believable for me. But I'm not bothered by trajectory calculations or kilometers per second. I don't know how much bacteria is required to grow food nor how much torque one needs to throw oneself against a phone booth size air lock to roll it. I take it only on Watney's word that it will give you a terrible backache.

This book was completely unexpected and engaging. Contains quite a bit of swearing so be aware of that. Actually, that is what makes the log so very funny.

I'm passing this one on and ranting.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

After I'm Gone: A NovelAfter I'm Gone: A Novel by Laura Lippman

After I'm Gone: A NovelAfter I'm Gone: A Novel by Laura Lippman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description:  When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette "Bambi" Gottschalk at a Valentine's Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative-if not all legal-businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi's comfortable world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.

Though Bambi has no idea where her husband-or all of his money-might be, she suspects one woman does: his devoted young mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she's left to join her old lover-until her remains are eventually found in a secluded wooded park.

Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto "Sandy" Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web of bitterness, jealously, resentment, greed, and longing stretching over three decades that connects five intriguing women: a faithful wife, a dead mistress, and three very different daughters. And at the center is the man who, though long gone, has never been forgotten by the five women who loved him: the enigmatic Felix Brewer.

Somewhere between the secrets and lies connecting past and present, Sandy will find the truth. And when he does, no one will ever be the same

My thoughts: I found this book more chick lit than thriller. The original crime occurs years ago when Felix realizes he is cornered and disappears. He leaves his wife, three daughters, and a mistress. All of them on the north side of destitute.

The book is really the story of what happens afterwards. Did he really take all that money he embezzled and start a new life in a new country? Was he killed? Did one of the players actually take all the money? So we follow the women for a few decades. What we discover is the strength in the faithful wife. We also have a few flashbacks from their courtship and discover a few things that add to the story and ultimately solve the mystery of the missing money. But that's just icing on the cake. The real meat of the story is what the ladies do with their lives. The daughters grow up very differently. They each internalize the betrayal and the abandonment very differently. The jilted wife pushes forward and evolves yet stays true to herself. The mistress inherits the cafe, the one legitimate business yet suffers despite being the only one with a clear inheritance.

There are peripheral characters that play a part in the story but the real fascination is the evolution of the women left by a selfish man.

Felix? That mystery is solved in a satisfying manner.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3)Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description: The earth-shattering conclusion to Veronica Rossi's "masterpiece" Under the Never Sky trilogy and sequel to the New York Timesbestselling Through the Ever Night (

Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

My thoughts: This is one of my favorite dystopian YA trilogies because of the characters, the story, and imbedded lessons learned.

Lessons learned-learn how to talk to those you love. They usually can't read your mind.

Allow yourself time to give. Time for revenge will come. Maybe that isn't a life lesson but it should be.

There are always those who are corrupted with power. They really must die. Or be neutered.

Okay so not all my chosen morals of the story were great examples, but there are some that parents will like. Speaking of parents, it nearly gets a full seal of approval. What content that is objectional is only intimated. Except the violence. That is both intimated and spelled out.

But the character development is truly wonderful. It is a trilogy that can't be read on its own. The story starts with a scene involving Aria, Perry, and Soren. Soren is quickly forgotten but in book 3 he reappears to great enjoyment of the reader. He also shows growth and change against other characters belief. Roar, Aria, and Perry were just as enjoyable as always. Sable is cruel and wretched. New characters emerge for the story to progress, much to the reader's enjoyment.

Friday, January 24, 2014

In the After by Demitria Lunetta

In the After (In the After #1)In the After by Demitria Lunetta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description: They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you've ever seen.
And They won't stop chasing you...until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta

My thoughts: Pretty similar to a movie I saw with Will Smith. The story is one you know yet, if told right, it still delivers a punch. The world is overtaken by weird beings that eat people. Survival is based on a certain skills which includes not being heard. The twist of the story is that the protagonist pairs up with a young, mute girl. Then the other twist is one I can't reveal or it would be a spoiler. As I've mentioned, t is a familiar theme but still enjoyable if told right. I thought it was told right and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Playing St. Barbara by Marian Szczepanski

Playing St. BarbaraPlaying St. Barbara by Marian Szczepanski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found the historical portion of the book to be the best part of this book. The setting is a coal mining town near Pittsburg following the Great War and The Great Depression. The crux of the story is the fate of women in such dire circumstances. The miners work in dangerous mines for pittance, shop at the company store, and live in company housing. There is never a way out of debt. They want to unionize but are bullied by the KKK.

The book covers a couple of decades and the women in an Irish/German family. Their fates greatly differ and their struggles are vast, particularly with their alcoholic, abusive father/husband. It is not as depressing as it may seem. Daily lives intertwine and the neighbors are willing to assist, forgive, and bring dinner when tragedy strikes and it is not uncommon.

I found there were too many people to keep track of. If I were to read it again, I'd draw out a socio and genogram to keep them all straight. I also struggled with the pronouns and wondering who was being referred to and when. It took more concentration for me than I wanted to give it.

Yet the material is fresh and the story is one we would likely find in variation in our own family histories.

That said, I would encourage you to go go to the author's site to completely immerse yourself in the life of coal mining during this time period. It is absolutely fascinating. And terrifying. And I have a much greater appreciation of my own ancestors that mined. It's not only Pittsburgh that coal mining was a staple. In fact, as recently as 2008, the Crandall Canyon Mine collapsed, killing miners. During a rescue mission, another portion collapsed and more died. I believe an appreciation of mining coal and the lifestyle is a necessary part of understanding and learning of the history of our country.

*The author has kindly provided a link for readers who struggle with keeping track of the characters and their children. Please visit: Playing St. Barbara by Marian Szczepanski.

Review copy provided by TLC.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)Red Rising by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description: Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow and Reds like him are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

My thoughts: Huge hit. That's what I see. I'd suggest older teenagers not sensitive to violence and adults. Darrow is only 16 at the beginning of this book, 18 by the end. But be prepared for a lot of societal ills. There are similarities to Hunger Games but not nearly enough to put it in the same category. First of all, Darrow is fighting for a different society, not merely to stay alive. He fights out of love for his murdered wife.

It's not a dystopian novel, rather a microcism of real societies, encompassing different periods of Earth history. Although the idea is survival if the fittest and making allies, playing nice with your team mates, the twist of politics is what makes the game very real. As does death and crimes against humanity.

Darrow's place in this new world on Mars is creative and intriguing. The Gold people mimic the Roman and Greek eras of power. Darrow discovers both good and evil in both his old society and the new society. I am looking forward to the next books.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pandemic: A Novel by Scott Sigler

Pandemic: A Novel (Infected #3)Pandemic: A Novel by Scott Sigler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The explosive conclusion to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with Infected and Contagious.

The alien intelligence that unleashed two horrific assaults on humanity has been destroyed. But before it was brought down in flames, it launched one last payload-a tiny soda-can-sized canister filled with germs engineered to wreak new forms of havoc on the human race. That harmless-looking canister has languished under thousands of feet of water for years, undisturbed and impotent...until now.

Days after the new disease is unleashed, a quarter of the human race is infected. Entire countries have fallen. And our planet's fate now rests on a small group of unlikely heroes, racing to find a cure before the enemies surrounding them can close in.

I didn't read the first two books in this series but I had no problem following along. The infection returns and it has mutated. It has learned from past infections and this is the last batch. It crawls onto surfaces and cling when in human contact. It then burrows into the host until it finds the spinal cord and reacts with stem cells, completely changing the host from who they were to an alien life form that is murderous or becomes a nest for other alien life forms to form.

It's wild, gory, runs at a pace that keeps me up at night, and well thought out. The protagonists are not wonderful. I didn't really care what happened to them, perhaps because even those who stay human are traumatized enough to act in ways not completely civilized. Be prepared to stay up into the wee hours to find out the fate of the world.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill Review

Dept. of SpeculationDept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description: Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all. 

Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband, postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophesa colicky baby, bedbugs, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it, as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.

With cool precision, in language that shimmers with rage and wit and fierce longing, Jenny Offill has crafted an exquisitely suspenseful love story that has the velocity of a train hurtling through the night at top speed. Exceptionally lean and compact, Dept. of Speculation can be read in a single sitting, but there are enough bracing emotional insights in these pages to fill a much longer novel.

My thoughts: I don't know how to review this book. It is concise yet overtly rambling. At the same time, the reader will see the segues within the ramblings and realize they are not mere ramblings at all. Written mostly first person by the wife, she describes the stages if married life; the all consuming role of motherhood, the sleep deprivation, stimulus deprivation, and the back burner where her second novel is waiting to be written.

Apropos, I am simultaneously reading Passages by Gail Sheehy which coincides very well with this book. The wife is moving through critical moments of her life as an individual and as a couple with her husband. There is an infidelity which is again concisely written that quickly describes the feelings of each player and decisions she makes. It is a story of many women's lives, the dissonance of domesticity and the drive for worldly accomplishments, the daily struggles of a common bedbug or lice, the reality that marriage is not all sunshine and roses but what she wants. They want to be noticed. Appreciated. Loved.

Very well written.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin Review

What Nora KnewWhat Nora Knew by Linda Yellin
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Description: Molly Hallberg is a thirty-nine-year-old divorced writer living in New York City who wants her own column, a Wikipedia entry, and to never end up in her family’s Long Island upholstery business. For the past four years Molly’s been on staff for an online magazine, covering all the wacky assignments. She’s snuck vibrators through security scanners, speed-dated undercover, danced with Rockettes, and posed nude for a Soho art studio.

Fearless in everything except love, Molly is now dating a forty-four-year-old chiropractor. He’s comfortable, but safe. When Molly is assigned to write a piece about New York City romance "in the style of Nora Ephron," she flunks out big-time. She can’t recognize romance. And she can’t recognize the one man who can go one-on-one with her, the one man who gets her. But with wit, charm, whip-smart humor, and Nora Ephron’s romantic comedies, Molly learns to open her heart and suppress her cynicism in this bright, achingly funny novel.

My thoughts: Yes, it's kind of cheesy and predictable with the Nora Ephron references. Lots of Meg Ryan and all. However, as Molly points out once or twice, we may know the ending, that she'll end up with the right guy after a grand gesture, but it's the actively discovering love right in front of your eyes keeps us watching. Or reading.

It is, by far, the funnest book I've read in a long time. I read Linda Yellin's book about her last first date; when she met her husband, their courtship and marriage. I loved it. Linda Yellin is unbelievably funny and honest and, I've said this before, I want to be her best friend. Knowing Yellin's real life love story adds enjoyability to this story. Molly is a thinly veiled Yellin, although the meeting of Nick to her Nora is different. There was a first marriage that didn't work out and probably shouldn't have counted. There were a lot of first and bad dates where she may have developed some cynicism. The point is her (Molly and Linda) decision to continue with some optimism. That someday it WOULD be a happy ending.

The choosing to be optimistic even after being hurt is the point of the novel. The heart of the novel is Yellin's personality which continues to tickle me. She provides peripheral characters that she develops just enough to know them in our own lives. She provides just enough of the details of their lives to place them into our own categories. For instance, how Russell takes a nap. How he tidily removes his watch and places it on the bedside table, lines up his shoes at the foot of the bed, or folds his clothes just so and stacks them. My favorite peripheral character, by far, is Emily. She is the office mate that uses the shared space to antagonize Molly. Hilarious.

The book takes place in Manhattan. Previous books about Manhattan details have bored me. Then I went to Manhattan in October. I got it. I got the geography, the addresses (although I stayed Midtown), and the realistic understanding of the Empire State Building. In fact, I knew I'd be really, really disappointed if the ending scene went "Sleepless in Seattle" because I KNOW that the Empire State Building has a line so long that we tourists decided against it. I also knew the distance between Radio City and the Empire State Building. And the price. Another thumbs down for the elevator ride. I knew that to get any place besides Manhattan, I'd have to ride to Penn Station, transfer to Jamaica and then I'd be free to roam around the other boroughs. And that's why I loved that aspect of it.

Nora Ephron - fantastic writer and optimist in spite of her experiences.

Linda Yellin - Nora Ephron style of writing and the most likeable writing style with just enough detail to make it hilarious.

Manhattan - I got to return via the book. I didn't feel like an outsider for once.

Emily, Angela, Kristina, Dierdre and Molly - I know these people with small adjustments.

Fun, witty, enjoyable book. Loved it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What I Had Before I Had You

What I Had Before I Had YouWhat I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent snapshot of bipolar disorder in different aspects. Olivia is telling he story and moves from one time period to another. It begins with Olivia driving to the east coast and stops in her old home town. She is recently divorced with two children in tow. Her adolescent daughter is the one who is often pushed aside. Her younger son has recently been diagnosed with early onset bipolar. They stop at the beach and Daniel disappears.

The book leap frogs between today and Olivia's 15th summer. She knows nothing about bipolar but she knows her mother has a different reality than those around her. This is the pivotal year for Olivia as she begins manifesting bipolar tendencies. It is also the summer that reality shifts and her world changes. She tells the POV of a daughter with a bipolar mother, a mother trying to manage her bipolar within the confines of marriage and parenthood, a parent of a bipolar son, and even the POV of the forgotten child.

Very well written and provides an excellent stage to allow bipolar disorder and personality to be played out.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler

AfterpartyAfterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I guess this could prove to be a cautionary tale, if one choose that perspective. Tell a little lie and more will follow. Go to snobby school and glom onto a ferociously manipulative girl. Kiss a stranger, lose your virginity. Emma believes she's been good too long. So she throws out her moral compass and joins into the bad behavior of 100% of the rest of her class with absolutely no moral compass and reaches the point of debauchery with the crowning glory, an event called "Afterparty." Every parental warning I could possibly flash, I AM FLASHING IN LARGE CAPS!

Drugs of all varieties
Underage drinking
Probable statutory rape
Lying, manipulation, mean girls, and bullying.

Just to give it a semblance of either balance or justification, add extremes in parenting styles. Either indulgent, selfish or overprotective. It was like a really bad episode of a cross between Teens Behaving Badly and 90210.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were LiarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anything I want to say about this book is best left unsaid. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I cheated and read the ending. I don't like surprises. However, I really, really liked the discovery process as Cady rebuilds the 15th summer of amnesia. I end up liking the what the four teens stand up for. It's not your usual, angsty YA novel. Family secrets are slowly exposed and new futures emerge.

Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood by Leah Vincent

Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox GirlhoodCut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood by Leah Vincent
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the vein of Prozac Nation and Girl, Interrupted, an electrifying memoir about a young woman's promiscuous and self-destructive spiral after being cast out of her ultra-Orthodox Jewish family

Leah Vincent was born into the Yeshivish community, a fundamentalist sect of ultra-Orthodox Judaism. As the daughter of an influential rabbi, Leah and her ten siblings were raised to worship two things: God and the men who ruled their world. But the tradition-bound future Leah envisioned for herself was cut short when, at sixteen, she was caught exchanging letters with a male friend, a violation of religious law that forbids contact between members of the opposite sex. Leah's parents were unforgiving. Afraid, in part, that her behavior would affect the marriage prospects of their other children, they put her on a plane and cut off ties. Cast out in New York City, without a father or husband tethering her to the Orthodox community, Leah was unprepared to navigate the freedoms of secular life. She spent the next few years using her sexuality as a way of attracting the male approval she had been conditioned to seek out as a child, while becoming increasingly unfaithful to the religious dogma of her past. Fast-paced, mesmerizing, and brutally honest, Cut Me Loose tells the story of one woman's harrowing struggle to define herself as an individual. Through Leah's eyes, we confront not only the oppressive world of religious fundamentalism, but also the broader issues that face even the most secular young women as they grapple with sexuality and identity.

I loved Leah's writing style. She clearly and quickly sets the stage by making key points about her upbringing. The ultra Orthodox is a way of life, not just a religion, affection was sparse, minor offenses would ruin the standing of the family if the wandering child was not rejected. The author writes an objective first half of the book, growing up in the culture and quietly questioning, yearning for understanding and wondering about life outside the confines of her group.

Leah's life is turned upside down very quickly. Marriage is the ultimate goal with many children. Education is not for the devout in her religion. This particular sect is based on the suffering of the Russian Jews prior to WWII. There is honor in suffering and denying the pleasures of this world. Modesty is to the extreme and doesn't end with dress but extends to covering hair after marriage, submitting to your husband and living in poverty. The Ultra-Orthodox was invented after the war. The Hasidic Jews are seen as quite liberal in comparison.

The turning point in Leah's life (although there was much that led up to this) was that her aunt found letters she had written to a boy. The episode occurred long before it was discovered but it was a great shame. All prospects of a good marriage are ruined at this point. She can only expect another wanderer or someone severely disfigured. She is rejected from attending Seminary and her parents set her up in an apartment in New York and arrange for her to have a job in Manhattan.

The book takes a dark turn which leaves me somewhat conflicted. First and foremost, I admire the author's courage to admit to her behavior and consequences. Leah is very lonely and has rare contact with her family. There is a phone call every week that lacks affection and is simply perfunctory. She has no friends at work and she knows nobody in the neighborhood. She falls in with the least common denominator and plummets from Ultra-Orthodox to foul talking, ultra sexually active.

Again, I appreciate and admire her honesty but it lacked insight. Her parents stayed true to form and did not suddenly develop an affectionate streak. She was not completely abandoned but she was certainly left to make her own way. I got the strong sense that Leah blamed her parents for Leah's choices. It was her parents' fault that she became sexually promiscuous. When a man that was much older than herself was having an affair with her and gets caught, the wife is upset and yells at Leah. Leah takes no responsibility for it in the book. The man was married. He was committing adultery. She was not violating her marriage vows. He was. The greater insight is that Leah has some serious Daddy Issues and was seeking acceptance by proxy with older men.

Leah's story is fascinating and well written to a point. Perhaps with the passage of time, she will gain greater insight and take ownership of her choices. Her accomplishments speak volumes for her determination. I am anxious to see where Leah goes from here.

View all my reviews

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Erased by Jennifer Rush

Erased (Altered, #2)Erased by Jennifer Rush
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

hey thought they had escaped. They were wrong.

After fleeing the Branch with Sam, Cas, and Nick, Anna is trying to make sense of the memories resurfacing from her old life. At the same time, she's learning how to survive in hiding, following Sam's rules: Don't draw attention to yourself. Always carry a weapon. Know your surroundings. Watch your back.

Then a figure from Anna's childhood reappears. Is it a Branch setup, or could it be the reunion Anna has hoped for? Uncertain of where her loyalties lie, Anna must fight to learn the truth -- before she is betrayed again. Ultimately, the answers hinge on one question: What was the real reason her memories were erased?

Jennifer Rush delivers a thrilling sequel to Altered in a novel packed with mysteries, lies, and surprises that are sure to keep readers guessing until the last page is turned.

Loved the first book. It left me very curious. It was much more violent than I expected but I enjoyed the storyline. This one was disappointing. Still too many unanswered questions including why Annie is so attracted to Sam who is simply the most Alpha but nothing else sets him apart. Also mildly hypocritical. For instance, one character calmly outlines the plan and how Annie is now going to have something unpleasant occur to her and this is what it is. In another scene, another character fills in more blanks and starts to tell her what diabolical plan that is in store. When Annie asks a question, the other character suddenly stops and asks, "Fishing?" Annie gas no need to fish. People are telling her what's up right before they are going to hurt her. Just like all those Scooby Doo cartoons where the bad guy would have gotten away with it but confesses everything once the mask is pulled off.

It's a lot Mission Impossible stuff which is kind of fun but left too many holes in the story. I finished unsatisfied.