ARC REVIEW: Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

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Thicker than Water

Brigid Kemmerer

December 29th 2015

Young Adult > Mystery

432 pages (Kindle edition)

eARC via Netgalley

 

3★★★

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

On his own

Thomas Bellweather hasnt been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdads cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that theres any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And shed like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden

 

REVIEW:

I’m here because I’ve been attracted to you since the moment I saw you outside the church.

Yes that totally justifies hanging out with a guy who’s suspected of murder. Come on, he’s cute! Murder? How could he possibly?!

I’m here because you let your guard down around me sometimes, and I don’t think you do that with anyone else.

Seeing as you’re the only one who talks to him, what with him being a murder suspect and all. I can’t imagine anyone else who would willingly offer friendship to him. Well … except for you so yes, maybe that’s why. And also, you’re hot!!11

I’m here because you make me feel like I have something to offer the world, instead of being someone who needs to be sheltered away.

Ugh. 

Basically, what I hated about this book was how Charlotte kept romanticizing Thomas and how the first part of the book mainly focuses on her infatuation towards him that it somehow escaped her mind that the guy who’s making her all tingly inside is also suspected of murdering his mother. No biggie. These two could not be in a room together without either one of them thinking how hot the other is and wanting to tear each other’s clothes off. Like what is even with two of them?

It’s not clear who killed Thomas’ mother. That’s where the mystery begins. What we do know is that he just found her there lifelessly lying in bed. No forced entry. Not even a sign of struggle. Even though Thomas is the main character, I, as a reader, still did not eliminate the chance that he could be the murderer. So yes, I don’t care if Thomas gets Charlotte hot every time they’re near each other, I still think they were being stupid.

But still I trudged on forward even though it took me almost a month to get to the finish line. And wow I was impressed. Not because the mystery was so mind-blowing in the how did it even level. It was a little predictable actually. I was impressed by how this book hooked me and kept me on the edge of my seat for the second half part of the book. To think that just a few chapters ago, I was almost ready to dismiss this book as another careless mystery that couldn’t keep up to the genre (*cough* Never Never *cough*).

I’m no Sherlock and I admit, as soon as bits and pieces of clues were revealed, it was pretty easy to put them all together. But it still kept me wanting more.

All in all, Thicker Than Water is close to being a solid mystery. Like I said, mind-blogging is not what the book is, but what it offered was enough to keep me engaged all the way through the end. I still can’t let go of the characters stupidity though.

MARLAhbt

REVIEW: The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

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The Distance from A to Z

Natalie Blitt

January 12th 2016

Young Adult > Contemporary

316 pages (Kindle edition)

 

3★★★1/2

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.

 

REVIEW:

 

I’m not in love with this book as much as everyone else seems to be but it’s still good nonetheless.

The MC, Abby, is a bit judgmental so I had a hard time liking her. There were times when I thought I finally liked her and then she would go back to being annoying so of course we’re back to square one. Also, I’m glad that her aversion to baseball was addressed because it really grated on my nerves and part of me actually thought she was overreacting about it.

The love interest, Zeke, wasn’t as swoon worthy as I hoped he would be. I don’t know. Maybe because like Abby, I had a hard time liking him too? He was okay at first but then he kept some things that bothered me as much as Abby did but for a whole lot of different reasons. It was because it’s like I never saw the real him. The whole book is on Abby’s POV so it was harder for me to connect with him, I guess. He has these two separate versions of himself–Zeke in English and Zeke in French. The Zeke in English who parties and hooks up with other girls and has all these secrets as opposed to Zeke in French who’s just so utterly adorable and nice. It made me really wonder how Abby and Zeke could ever work out once their summer program is over but maybe it’s just the cynic in me talking.

I do love how amazing the friendship is here though. I just wanted to scream ‘forget the romance, here is a friendship I’ve been dying to read and have for myself in ages!’ Alice wasn’t treated as a mere plot device but her friendship with Abby played a big role in Abby’s growth as much as Alice’s. It’s real and it’s strong and I want it for myself. It’s one of my favorite things about this whole book actually. Along with the French language and how it was incorporated in the story. I took a French class sophomore year and needless to say, I learned more here than I ever did in that class.

Overall, The Distance from A to Z is a nice and heartwarming book that’s not all about the romance but also about friendship, growth and taking chances.

MARLAhbt

ARC REVIEW: How to Lose a Bachelor by Anna Banks

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How to Lose a Bachelor

Anna Banks

November 9th 2015

Adult > Contemporary Romance

196 pages (Kindle edition)

eARC via Netgalley

 

2★★

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

When Rochelle Ransom auditioned for the dating show Luring Love, she had big plans for winning the prize money to help her favorite charity–and if she won the hot bachelor’s heart, even better. But at the last minute she finds out the hot bachelor is her ex-boyfriend, Grant Drake. Desperate to keep her distance from him, she’ll do anything–and everything–to get voted off.

Years ago, Rochelle broke Grant’s heart, and he’s out for revenge. There’s no way he’ll vote her off.

After all, vengeance is a dish best served red-hot…and on live television.

When her hilarious antics to get kicked off the show escalate, Grant’s reminded why he fell in love with her the first time. Now he isn’t sure which might be more fun… Seeing how far Rochelle is willing to go to get away or how far he will to keep her forever.

 

 

MINI REVIEW:

Meh. This was okay. Nothing groundbreaking yet it’s not that bad either–and that’s already considering how immature the characters are! Honestly, their childishness was the ultimate deal breaker for me. Ten years have passed since they last saw each other and they were acting like children more than they did all those years ago. Ugh, so annoying. I just thought it pretty immature all the heroine did on TV (!!!) considering that she’s a lawyer and has a professional reputation to uphold. It’s like she doesn’t even care that the way she acts might possibly taint her professional life. Hm. I’m not saying that just because she’s a lawyer. I still would’ve said that even though she’s a mere street vendor. I don’t know. I just felt like getting your ass drunk and passing out in front of everybody, wearing the frumpiest clothes just so she would get eliminated on the show (and that only had the same opposite, obviously) was not worth all the embarrassment she had to endure just for the sake of some petty revenge that was ten years in the making.

I couldn’t even concentrate on the romance because I was too busy being annoyed! Eh. Well, if you’re looking for a real inside look on how reality shows work–like The Bachelor– watch Lifetime’s UnREAL instead. That show is gold. Anyway, I’ve read better books than this. I’m out.

 

MARLAhbt

ARC REVIEW: For the Record by Charlotte Huang

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For the Record
Charlotte Huang
November 10th 2015
Young Adult > Contemporary
320 pages (Kindle edition)
eARC via Netgalley

 

3★★★1/2

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

 

Chelsea thought she knew what being a rock star was like… until she became one. After losing a TV talent show, she slid back into small-town anonymity. But one phone call changed everything .
Now she’s the lead singer of the band Melbourne, performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a bus with three gorgeous and talented guys. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And when teen heartthrob Lucas Rivers take an interest in her, Chelsea is suddenly famous, bringing Melbourne to the next level—not that they’re happy about that. Her feelings for Beckett, Melbourne’s bassist, are making life even more complicated.
Chelsea only has the summer tour to make the band—and their fans—love her. If she doesn’t, she’ll be back in Michigan for senior year, dying a slow death. The paparazzi, the haters, the grueling schedule… Chelsea believed she could handle it. But what if she can’t?

 

REVIEW:

 

For the Record is a fangirl’s dream come true. This book is a story about a girl who’s suddenly thrust into the spotlight when one phone call changed her life and made her the lead singer of a famous rock band. Getting away from her small town? Yeah, that’s a good thing since they never seemed to care about her anyway. But how is living in close quarters with three guys who could barely tolerate her any different?

I flew through this book from the very first page and if it weren’t for school taking up my priorities, I’m sure I would’ve devoured this in one sitting. Through Chelsea’s eyes we see behind the scenes of what life is for a rock band, the dynamics of it, and how life is on tour. True, I was a bit wary at first that the author wouldn’t pull off giving us authentic rock star feels but then thank God I always read the acknowledgments first and found out that she knows someone who has experience in the music industry so I knew right then that this book and I are in safe hands.

What I loved most about this is that this book is just brimming with personality. Each and every one of the characters have their own characteristics that sets them apart from the others. I appreciated how the author made them so unique that I couldn’t help but want to know them more. There’s Pem who is the band’s resident grouch, completely anal about everything and all about the artistic merit – the yin to Beckett’s yang. Beckett is the one who you would just want to hang out with for hours, talk about life and music and never get bored. And then there’s Malcolm – the fun-loving, charming laid-back drummer of the band who’s all about the good time. All of them served their purpose in the story and in no way were they resorted to the background but instead they helped us in getting to know all the layers of Chelsea’s character.

Chelsea is a flawed person and yet I found it easy in me to understand her. Yes, I got frustrated with her and the decisions she made but I get where she was coming from. I love flawed characters who eventually grow up and learn from their mistakes. There were times – especially near the end – that I felt like there’s more in her that still needs some growing up to do. I don’t know why but even though that is the case I’m much more forgiving with Chelsea as opposed to other YA characters that I’ve encountered before. She’s complicated but I kept telling myself to give the girl a break. Not only is she still adjusting to being famous, she’s also juggling the task of making her band mates love her. Who says the life of a rock star is ever easy?

I guess the only major quibble I have is the lack of solid friendship. I get why Chelsea’s band mates may be aloof towards her at first and I didn’t expect them to suddenly be BFFs with her. But Mandy, who’s supposedly her best friend didn’t really seem capable to that task. She was shallow, insensitive and ungrateful. I know she was the only one who stuck with Chelsea when everyone in their school seemed to hate her but a true friend wouldn’t hold it in your head just to guilt you in doing something you have no control over. She made bad decisions and she just expected Chelsea to fix the consequences for her. And when Chelsea couldn’t deliver, she betrayed her. If it were me in Chelsea’s place, I would certainly not find it easy in me to be that forgiving.

For the Record‘s ending is open-ended and I’m still hoping against hope that a sequel – or even just a novella – about what happens next to the characters is a possibility. All in all this is a great book filled with great characters who feel incredibly real, you won’t want to let go. Time flies so fast when you’re reading a good book, that’s for sure.

MARLAhbt

ARC REVIEW: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

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Vengeance Road
Erin Bowman
September 1st 2015
Young Adult > Historical > Western
336 pages (Kindle edition)
eARC via Netgalley

 

4 ★★★★1/2

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

 

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate.
In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

 

REVIEW:

I’ve never been fond of the Western genre before but this book just damn well swayed my mind. Vengeance Road is a book that doesn’t shy away from being merciless and gritty. This isn’t some cutesy YA western, no. You want nasty? Nasty is what you’ll get. Kate, the heroine, is out for revenge and her thirst for it shows. She’s badass, ruthless and won’t stop for nothing but at the same time still so kind to the core.

Despite being bloody and brutal, I still found myself laughing at some scenes of the book. I have the secondary characters to thank for that and the banter they shared with Kate because it gives us break from all the blood and grit. And yes, there’s romance but it took a backseat here and it’s so subtle yet it still made my heart aflutter. It’s definitely a pairing that I ship with all my heart.

And of course, it won’t be the west if there are no gun fights, gold hunts and ghost shooters. All these elements just added spirit to the whole wild west atmosphere and made the western feel so authentic and on point and damn, if you don’t read this book with an accent, then you’re doing it all wrong.

Vengeance Road just made me love this genre that I couldn’t care less about before and I’m just so glad that I took a chance on this book.

MARLAhbt