Category Archives: Amazon Vine Program

Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zetner

Goodbye DaysCarter Briggs knows about the power of the written word. Not only can he entertain and touch his three best friends with his stories and jokes but a simple text message to them could have been a factor in the auto collision that took their lives.

Wracked with guilt and hurting from the loss of the fellow members of the Sauce Crew, Carver faces the difficult task of trying to move forward with his life. It doesn’t help that the twin sister of his one his friends and a high-powered judge and father to another friend hold Carver responsible for the death of his friends. And both want to see Carver “pay” for his actions.

Jeff Zetner’s Goodbye Days chronicles Carver’s journey to come to terms with the death of his friends and the impact it has not only on him but those around him. Carter’s witty, self-aware narration is honest, authentic and, at times, utterly raw. Zetner ably captures the conflicting emotions Carver experiences, including several panic attacks that send Carver looking for help beyond what his family and friends can offer. Continue reading

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Review: Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

Distress SignalsThe runaway success of “Gone Girl” has created a new sub-genre in the mystery/thriller section. It seems like every other book that comes out these days cover blurb touts it as being in the “same vein as ‘Gone Girl.'”

And while there have been a few books that have come close to capturing the page-turning intensity of Gillian Flynn, there have been more than a few that felt like pale imitations of the original.

For the first third of “Distress Signals,” it feels like Catherine Ryan Howard has tapped into the same vein Flynn did with “Gone Girl.” Only to see it all fall apart the more Adam Dunne digs into the disappearance of his fiance, Sarah. Continue reading

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Review: The American Girl by Kate Horsley

The American GirlIt seem like a lot of the mystery novels I’m drawn to these days feature an unreliable narrator (or narrators in the case of The American Girl). Whether this is due to the success of novels like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train has encouraged publishers to jump on the unreliable narrator bandwagon or that it’s just that I’ve become more aware of this particular narrative hook, I’m not sure.

What I do know is that, at this point, it takes a lot to make an unreliable narrator story stand out to me.

Kate Horsley’s The American Girl was able to do that. Well, at least it was able to do that for the first hundred or so pages. Continue reading

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Review: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay

Disappearance at Devil's RockThinking her fourteen year-old son Tommy is spending the night at one of his best friend’s house, Elizabeth Sanderson in disturbed to receive a phone call saying her son has gone missing. As the shock sets in, Elizabeth can’t help but feel that history is repeating itself. Tommy’s father vanished in the night years before. Could it be that her son has followed in his father’s footsteps?

The answers are far more compelling and interesting than that and they make this book one that was, at times, next to impossible to put down. Add in an element of the potential supernatural and you’ve got the another winner from Paul Tremblay — an author who after reading just two of his books has been put onto my “must read anything he writes list” and whom I eagerly seeking you his back catalog.

Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock starts with a heck of hook and doesn’t let up until the final page is turned. The question of how well you really know your kids and your family haunts every page of the novel and drives much of this superlatively told, suspenseful mystery. Like his earlier haunting A Head Full of Ghosts this is one of those novels that defies categorization beyond “a really good book that everyone should read.” Continue reading

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Review: I Take You by Eliza Kennedy

I Take You

In seven days, New York lawyer Lily Wilder will walk down the aisles, capping off her whirlwind romance with her finance, Will. The two met seven months earlier in a bar and after a passionate weekend, the threw caution to the wind and decided to get married. But the question looming over the wedding is do these two really know each other and are they the right fit?

See, Lily has a side of herself that she’s kept secret from Will. Lily enjoys living up to her last name and living wilder than many — binge drinking, sleeping with strangers, friends, really anyone who comes on her radar (she’s even carrying on an affair with her boss at her law firm). She also has a dark secret from her past that she’s hidden from everyone (or so she thought) and that if it comes to light, it could undo all her current and future happiness.

Despite warnings from family members, friends and lots of other signs saying that maybe she isn’t ready to settle down and that she and Will aren’t a good match, Lily is determined to go through the wedding. Continue reading

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Review: I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

20-books-of-summer-master-image I Am Princess X

At a young age, best friends Libby and May created Princess X together. No ordinary princess, Princess X wore red chucks and wielded a sword. Together, May and Libby created a wide variety of adventures for her as well as adversaries, backstories and side characters. But the entire collection was given to charity when Libby was killed in a car wreck with her mother and her dad donated it.

May was heartbroken by the loss of her friend and sent her parents on an obsessive quest to every charity store in town trying to find the collection. She never succeeded and thought that the saga of Princess X was lost, until years later when she sees a Princess X sticker in downtown Seattle. Digging deeper, May discovers that Princess X is a web comic — but it may be something more. With the help of a hacker, she begins to suspect there is more to the story of Princess X than meets the eye and that her old friend Libby may still be alive and trying to reach out to her.

Cherie Priest has given readers some fantastic stories over the course of her career. And I Am Princess X is no exception to that rule. It’s a fun young adult story that can be read by kids of all ages. I’m sure this will win her new young adult fans and it may even get a few new older readers as well. As an entry point into the fantastic worlds created by Priest, it works extremely well and is a self-contained story (not that I’d mind spending more time with the world, mind you). It’s also a breath of fresh air to find a young adult novel that doesn’t include sparkly vampires or a love triangle with our heroine torn between two brooding guys.

My only drawback with this one was I got an ARC from the Amazon Vine program that didn’t include the final drawn graphic novel panels for much of the book. But instead of turning me off the book, it simply makes me want to seek out a final copy and see what these drawings look like. The ARC includes descriptions and some early drawings in the first few chapters so I could imagine what they might look like.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Bone Tree by Greg Iles

The Bone Tree

Greg Iles triumphant return to the small town of Natchez continues in the middle installment of a new trilogy, The Bone Tree. Thankfully, Tree doesn’t suffer from middle installment syndrome with characters doing a lot of treading water as we slowly set up things for the final race to the finish line.

Iles spends the first third of the book allowing his characters to reflect on the events of Natchez Burning and slowly moving pieces into place for novel’s final acts. But once the revelations start coming, Iles piles them on fast and furiously, making the novel’s final six hundred or so pages fly by and leaving you curious to see what will happen next.

Mayor Penn Cage continues to juggle multiple crises — from his father being on the run from the police and wanted in connection with the death of state trooper to his fiancee not filing him fully on what she knows about the cases unfolding to his own agenda to try and exonerate his father all while uncovering the truths that have long been buried (both literally and figuratively) surrounding racial relations in his own small town, our country and just how that could tie into bigger conspiracy theories (including the shooting of JFK, RFK and MLK). The longer page count of the novel allows time for some of these events to sink in and to impact Cage (and a multitude of other characters) decisions. Seeing the forces aligned against Cage and the other various forces working with him is fascinating and while we may not necessarily root for the various opponents stacked up against Cage, Iles at least allows us to understand their motivations.

And while it’s not quite as fast paced as the first installment in this trilogy, it’s still every bit as page turning and compelling. Once I hit the mid-way point of the novel, it was next to impossible to put down and I was once again left wanting more when the final page was turned.

At this point, I’m not sure how Iles will wrap things up in the next book, but I know that I’ll eagerly be waiting for it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.

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