Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December in Review

Happy Holidays from everyone here in Little Dixie Land!

Busy with the holidays but always busy with books, 
here are the totals for December!

Reviewed by Brunette Librarian
100 Pages and Published in 2013

Reviewed by Brunette Librarian
258 Pages and Published in 2013

Reviewed by M. Wetzel
40 Pages and Published in 2009

"The Professional: Part 1" By: Kresley Cole
Reviewed by Brunette Librarian
120 Pages and Published in 2013

"Empty Mansions" By: Bill Dedman
Reviewed by Brunette Librarian
496 Pages and Published in 2013

"Break Out" By: Joel Osteen
Reviewed by N Goodrich
256 Pages and Published in 2013

"The Forgotten" By: David Baldacci
Reviewed by K. Hayden
424 Pages and Published in 2012

"The Redhead Plays Her Hand" By: Alice Clayton
Reviewed by Brunette Librarian
320 Pages and Published in 2013

"Castle Hill" By: Samantha Young
Reviewed by Brunette Librarian
97 Pages and Published in 2013

"Fighting For You" By: Sydney Landon
Reviewed by Brunette Librarian
304 Pages and Published in 2013

"I Want My Hat Back" By: Jon Klassen
Reviewed by Brunette Librarian
32 Pages and Published in 2011

"Beautiful Beginning" By: Christina Lauren
Reviewed by Brunette Librarian
208 Pages and Published in 2013

"A Tale of Two Dragons" By: G.A. Aiken
Reviewed by Brunette Librarian
174 Pages and Published in 2013

"The Gods of Guilt" By: Michael Connelly
Reviewed by K.Hayden
400 Pages and Published in 2013

"My Story" By: Elizabeth Smart
Reviewed by Brunette Librarian
320 Pages and Published in 2013

Total Books Reviewed: 16
# of Pages Read: 3,549
# of Reviewers: 4

November Stats
 Total Books Reviewed: 13
# of Pages Read: 3,520
# of Reviewers: 3

"My Story" By: Elizabeth Smart Review

My Story
By: Elizabeth Smart & Chris Stewart

For the first time, ten years after her abduction from her Salt Lake City bedroom, Elizabeth Smart reveals how she survived and the secret to forging a new life in the wake of a brutal crime
On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.
Now for the first time, in her memoir, MY STORY, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving.  Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.
In the nine years after her rescue, Smart transformed from victim to advocate, traveling the country and working to educate, inspire and foster change. She has created a foundation to help prevent crimes against children and is a frequent public speaker. In  2012, she married Matthew Gilmour, whom she met doing mission work in Paris for her church, in a fairy tale wedding that made the cover of People magazine.
My Thoughts
     In early 2013, I was lucky enough to meet Elizabeth Smart at a women’s event in Missouri. Incredibly well spoken, intelligent, and kind, Elizabeth spoke of her past and her future with such optimism that its hard to believe that her life was an absolute hell for almost 9 months. So naturally, I was interested in her story and immediately read her book the moment it hit my local library. 
     Everyone knows the story of Elizabeth Smart, or at least the most bare bones details. She was taken from her home in the dead of night in June of 2002 by David Mitchell, a self-proclaimed prophet. She was 14 years old at the time and taken from her bed that she happened to be sharing with her younger sister. She was to be another of his “wives.” Helping him in his evil planning and kidnapping was his wife, Wanda Barzee. They kept Elizabeth, inflicting terrible physical, mental, and sexual abuse for almost nine months.     
      Well written, Elizabeth tells in her own words the events leading up to her rescue and the hellish events that took place during her captivity. Raped daily, forced to take drugs and alcohol, and regularly threatened the lives of her family. I think what really got to me was the emotional and mental toll Elizabeth had during these nine months. On the outside, this is absolutely horrific, but once you factor in a 14 year old girl was going through this, with her 14 year old insecurities and views of the world, it will blow your mind and break your heart. 
      Smart’s My Story is a testament to human survival and hope for the future. Having seen Elizabeth speak, I think my enjoyment of the book was enhanced. Heartbreaking but with a beautiful ending, My Story will show that there is true evilness in this world while also showing there is still love.
Book Details
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date of Publication: October 7, 2013
# of Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-1250040152
Source: Library Checkout

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (December 2, 2013)

Mickey Haller gets the text, "Call me ASAP - 187," and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game.

When Mickey learns that the victim was his own former client, a prostitute he thought he had rescued and put on the straight and narrow path, he knows he is on the hook for this one. He soon finds out that she was back in LA and back in the life. Far from saving her, Mickey may have been the one who put her in danger.

Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Mickey must work tirelessly and bring all his skill to bear on a case that could mean his ultimate redemption or proof of his ultimate guilt. The Gods of Guilt shows once again why "Michael Connelly excels, easily surpassing John Grisham in the building of courtroom suspense" (Los Angeles Times).

My Thoughts:
I thoroughly enjoyed this courtroom drama, another in the Lincoln Lawyer series.   Connelly creates a great cast of characters - some are good guys, some area bad guys but all very interesting.  To see how the case unfolds before us in the courtroom is fascinating and he brings the inside of the courtroom alive.

Friday, December 27, 2013

"A Tale of Two Dragons" By: G.A. Aiken Review

A Tale Of Two Dragons (Dragon Kin, #0.2)

A Tale of Two Dragons
By: G.A. Aiken
Braith of the Darkness likes going through life unnoticed. Not an easy task for a She-dragon of royal descent. But the evil plots of her father are turning her quiet, boring life upside down, and she has now become the enemy of the most vicious queen her kind has ever known. But for once, Braith won't have to fight alone. Not when the warrior dragon of her dreams is willing to risk everything to save her neck. Addolgar the Cheerful wishes he could say he’s helping the pretty royal strictly for honorable reasons - but he'd be lying. It’s not his fault, though! He didn't tell Braith of the Darkness to have the most delicious tail he’s ever seen! Yet before Addolgar can get his very strong claws on that tail, heads are going to roll. Just hopefully not theirs…

My Thoughts
      Ugh. I’ve been a fan of G.A. Aiken since her first dragon book, but they have steadily been going downhill and I’ve had my fill. What began as a humorous and romantic series has turned into just a cluster of unfunny, uninteresting characters in unappealing situations.
     I’m not even going to go into what the story is about because I don’t care. I literally didn’t like the characters, and previous characters that I had fallen in love with are just dumb now...which is heartbreaking. The story was asinine, not making sense half the time and the romance was pretty much nonexistent. The characters were more interested in being slapstick than actually having a story, which broke my heart.
    I can’t believe this story was actually approved and I’m sad that such a promising series has failed so sadly. G.A. Aiken used to be one of those authors I recommended to people who enjoyed a great paranormal romance or a little humor but no longer.
Dragon Kin Series
  1. Dragon Actually
  2. "Chains & Flames" from Dragon Actually
  3. About a Dragon
  4. "Can't Get Enough" from Everlasting Bad Boys
  5. What a Dragon Should Know
  6. Last Dragon Standing
  7. "Dragon On Top" from Supernatural
  8. The Dragon Who Loved Me

Book Details
Publisher: Zebra Publishing
Date of Publication: November 5, 2013
ISBN: 978-1420133530
# of Pages: 174
Source: Personal Purchase

Thursday, December 26, 2013

"Beautiful Beginning" By: Christina Lauren Review

Beautiful Beginning
By: Christina Lauren

Back when not being able to stand each other also meant not being able to keep their hands off each other in Beautiful Bastard, neither Bennett nor Chloe could have seen this day coming.
An exasperated bride who just wants to elope. A determined groom whose only focus is getting to the wedding night. And—of course—a whole lot of name calling.
My Thoughts
     I actually forgot this book was coming out, so when I opened my Nook it was a fantastic surprise. Having finished Beautiful Player just a few days before, it was a great book to read next and a most excellent ending to an absolutely wonderful series.
     Beautiful Beginning brings it back almost to the beginning with Chloe and Bennett. Almost a full circle, we watched Chloe and Bennett at the start of their relationship, their tumultuous fights,  an incredibly romantic engagement, the hot bachelorette party, and the finale of the wedding you won’t soon forget.
     The characters in this series remain with you long after you set the book down. I have probably read Beautiful Bastard five or six times, not necessarily for the story (which is good, don’t get me wrong) but for the pure fun of reading the interactions between Chloe and Bennett. They fight and claw at one another constantly and its superbly fun to read. Bennett is so self assured until Chloe, while Chloe doesn’t let Bennett eclipse her own achievements. The characters are well crafted, well rounded and just fun.
    I’ve genuinely enjoyed each and every one of the books in this Beautiful series and can’t wait to see what the authors have up their sleeves next. With the finale of Beautiful Beginning, we see the happy ever after for these three couples we’ve been watching for oh so long. A delightful ending that will leave you smiling, I can’t recommend these books or these characters enough.

Beautiful Series
1.5 Beautiful Bitch
2. Beautiful Stranger
2.5 Beautiful Bombshell
3. Beautiful Player
3.5 Beautiful Beginning

Book Details
Publisher: Pocket Star
# of Pages: 208
Date of Publication: November 19, 2013
Source: Personal Purchase

This book review was originally published
at The Brunette Librarian's Blog

Monday, December 23, 2013

"I Want My Hat Back" By: Jon Klassen Review

I Want My Hat Back
By: Jon Klassen
A bear almost gives up his search for his missing hat until he remembers something important.
My Thoughts
     Always a favorite of mine, I adore I Want My Hat Back. A simple story about a bear just looking for his hat and the rabbit who may, or may not have taken it. With easy, simple language and uncomplicated drawings, Klassen weaves an adorable tale for children and adults alike.
     Perfect for storytimes or one on one readings with children, I adore this story. This bear walks around the forest, asking about his red pointy hat. After asking a snake, a turtle, and other animals, he asks this rabbit where his hat might be. Coincidentally, the rabbit is wearing a red hat but has no idea where red hats come from. Children enjoy figuring out the mystery before the bear but ultimately, its just a sweet charming story that will make you smile.

Book Details
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Date of Publication: September 27, 2011
# of Pages: 32
ISBN: 978-0763655983
Source: Library Checkout

Friday, December 20, 2013

"Fighting For You" By: Sydney Landon Review

Fighting For You (Danvers, #4)
Fighting for You
By: Sydney Landon
Ella Webber has spent years uncomfortable around the opposite sex... But as soon as she meets handsome Declan Stone, she is smitten. Quickly they become friends, finding frequent reasons to see each other around the office, and Ella longs for even more. So-with a little help from her friends-Ella resorts to performing a little seduction. One that Declan will never be able to resist.
Burdened by emotional baggage from his time in the army, Declan refuses to believe he's the right man for sweet Ella. Even if she makes him long for normal things, like marriage and family....But in his attempts to close off his heart from her love, could he have underestimated Ella's powers of persuasion?
My Thoughts
     Being a huge fan of this series as a whole, I was highly anticipating Declan and Ella’s story. I can’t even tell you how excited I was...and how disappointed I am in what I just read. This is my first DNF I’ve had for quite a while and I am so sad it was Sydney’s book.
     Ella and Declan’s romance has been hinted at in all of the previous books. We all wanted big bad Declan to fall hard for the shy, simple Ella. So its safe to say there was plenty of buildup and as a reader, I wanted that buildup to pay off. I’m sorry to say, it never did for me.
  • Declan and Ella seemed to have zero chemistry. Where were the shy glances and whispered conversations in this book? It seemed as if the moment Declan decided he was ready to go after Ella, it was done. There was no more of the cute flirting that made me fall in the love with them to begin with.
  • I found Ella unbelievable as a character. Her mother seemed WAY WAY over the top and never really plausible. 
  • Ella’s innocence was way overplayed too. The "I’m a virgin and have no idea about life" seemed unrealistic and just weird. I can understand the not being intimate part but its 2013, sex is on the tv, Internet and radio. We know about it people. Oye.
  • Declan was a jerk. A jerk. He seemed disinterested in Ella and then suddenly its wham, bam, thank ya ma’am. He didn’t seem to even match his intensity in the previous books, so much so in fact that it was like I didn’t even know him.
     I’ve relatively enjoyed the other books in the series, especially Fall For Me but this one was blah. I made it about 50% of the way through and decided there were so many more books out there that I set it down. All in all, a blah book. Blah :)

Danvers Series
3. Fall For Me
4. Fighting For You
4.5 Betting on you (Coming January 2014)

Book Details
Publisher: Penguin Group
Date of Publication: October 15, 2013
# of Pages: 304
ISBN: 9780451468956
Source: Personal Purchase

This review was originally posted at The Brunette Librarian's Blog

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Castle Hill" By: Samantha Young Review

Castle Hill
By: Samantha Young

Braden Carmichael never imagined he’d fall as hard and as fast as he did for Jocelyn Butler. He also could not have anticipated how difficult it would be to convince her to give in to love. But now that he has her, he’s never letting go. He’s got it all planned—the passionate proposal, the dream wedding, the sexy Hawaiian honeymoon—even the perfect family they’ll start.
After trying to flee from her painful past, Joss is finally allowing herself to embrace the future. But when things start moving faster than she anticipated, she finds herself panicking over something Braden can’t understand. After everything they’ve been through, Joss is sure that their love can survive even her worst fears. But, this time, she may push Braden too far—and risk losing everything all over again…
My Thoughts
     Having absolutely fallen in love with Joss and Braden when I first read On Dublin Street, I was thrilled when Samantha Young revealed that she was going be writing another chapter in their lives. Taking place between the events of Down London Road and the upcoming Before Jamaica Lane, Joss and Braden are moving onto the next chapter of their life...marriage and maybe babies?
      Castle Hill covers several of the key moments post Dublin Street. Everything from the proposal, the wedding, and a romantic honeymoon. When they return, Joss reveals to Braden that she may not be ready for children and then boom...morning sickness. Braden is heartbroken that Joss may not want a family with him and Joss doesn’t know what she wants anymore.
      An incredibly short story, coming in at under 100 pages including the excerpt of Young’s next novel in the end. It seems hurried and disjointed and at the price of $2.99, I expected a bit more story. Different scenes in the book aren’t necessarily connected in any way and I just wanted a bit more bang for my buck.
       All in all the story was fair, I did enjoy the extra glimpse into the lives of some of my most favorite characters of all time. I don’t know if it was the smoothest of stories and could see it as a freebie on most author’s website’s, not necessarily something to be purchased. If you enjoyed On Dublin Street, you might try this, but I wouldn’t pick it up otherwise.

On Dublin Street Series
2. Down London Road
3. Before Jamaica Lane  (January 7, 2014)
4. Fall from India Place (June 3, 2014)

Book Details
Publisher: NAL (Intermix)
Date of Publication: December 3, 2013
# of Pages: 97
Source: Personal Purchase

This blog post originally was published at The Brunette Librarian

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"The Redhead Plays Her Hand" By: Alice Clayton Review

The Redhead Plays Her Hand
By: Alice Clayton

Grace has landed the lead in a new TV series—but when the director asks her to lose fifteen pounds, she goes public with her weight struggles and suddenly develops a huge fan club who support her right to have curves. But between that and the public’s continuing fascination with her “are they or aren’t they” relationship with Jack, Grace begins to wonder if anyone’s really interested in her because of her upcoming TV series, or if it’s all speculation about the size of her ass and her bedroom partner.
Meanwhile, Jack is voted the Sexiest Man Alive and becomes a little too enamored with the party-hard lifestyle. Grace vows to give him the space he needs to find himself, but then he begins to spiral down from lovable Brit to Hollywood brat. People are talking, but are Jack and Grace? Her career is on the rise, and his continues into the stratosphere, but will she be able to catch him if he falls? Will they ever be able to just be a couple who can hold hands when they walk down the street?
My Thoughts
      First and foremost, I feel that The Redhead Plays Her Hand absolutely needs to be read in order. That said, I was so happy to read Grace and Jack’s next chapter that I literally devoured the book within a few hours between smiles and sips of Mountain Dew. Finally we got to see where Grace and Jack ended up and where their relationship now stands, which to be completely honest, I was a little worried about after book two.
       The book opens with Jack and Grace, happy, in love, living together in Los Angeles. Jack is now a huge star, with paparazzi following him wherever he goes. Having completely warmed up to the “star” lifestyle, Jack is living the high life. Going out all night, drinking, hanging out with other 20-somethings, and perhaps trying drugs seems to be his norm now. He has little to no idea how to deal with his new star status and his career and personal life are both suffering.
      Grace is on the cusp of stardom herself. Constant dieting to become the perfect leading lady material has created a strain and as she is finally starring in her own show, Grace’s issues are front page news. From her tumultuous romance, to her weight, to her lack of star power, the public questions Grace on almost each issue.
      Jack and Grace, who seemed so perfect for one another, are having trouble falling into their happily ever after. Sudden stardom seems to have damaged Jack and Grace struggles with maintaining bother her relationship and her career. Neither knows how to deal with the new trials they've been given nor how to relate to one another anymore.
      I just love these characters so much and have to admit, I am deeply invested in their futures. I enjoyed how Grace deals with her weight issues and love the positive weight issues she highlights as she becomes a TV icon. Heartbreaking but real, the drug and paparazzi issues Jack deals with are dealt with in such a realistic manner, it felt like my own heart was being ripped out. And lets not forget, the pure sensuality between the characters makes me fall in love with them over and over.
      The Redhead Plays Her Hand is the third book in the fabulous Redhead Series by Alice Clayton, but may not be the finale. It ends utterly lovely but I can totally see an opening for a fourth book, which I’m sure I would devour as well. Clayton reminds us that behind all of the plastic, life may not be so perfect in Hollywood. Life isn't perfect but this series may be.
Redhead Series
3. Redhead Plays Her Hand

Book Details
Publisher: Gallery Books
# of Pages: 320
Date of Publication: December 24, 2013
ISBN: 978-1476741255
Source: Edelweiss - for Review

This review originally appeared on the Brunette Librarian's Blog

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Forgotten by David Baldacci

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Book Club edition (2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446573051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446573054

Army Special Agent John Puller is the best there is. A combat veteran, Puller is the man the U.S. Army relies on to investigate the toughest crimes facing the nation. Now he has a new case--but this time, the crime is personal: His aunt has been found dead in Paradise, Florida.

A picture-perfect town on Florida's Gulf Coast, Paradise thrives on the wealthy tourists and retirees drawn to its gorgeous weather and beaches. The local police have ruled his aunt's death an unfortunate, tragic accident. But just before she died, she mailed a letter to Puller's father, telling him that beneath its beautiful veneer, Paradise is not all it seems to be.

What Puller finds convinces him that his aunt's death was no accident . . . and that the palm trees and sandy beaches of Paradise may hide a conspiracy so shocking that some will go to unthinkable lengths to make sure the truth is never revealed.

My Thoughts:
I listened "The Forgotten" on CD and thoroughly enjoyed the story. This is a very good thriller from the beginning to the end.  I would recommend the book to anyone who likes a story with twists and turns and a good guy that solves the mystery in the end.