Sunday, January 31, 2016

[Review] Columbine by Dave Cullen

Columbine by Dave Cullen
Publisher: Twelve
Publishing Date: April 6, 2009
417 Pages
Format: hardcover, library
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 4 stars


On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma-City style, and to leave "a lasting impression on the world." Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence-irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting "another Columbine."

Now, in a riveting piece of journalism nearly ten years in the making, comes the story none of us knew. In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen has delivered a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris, and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal. 

The result is an astonishing account of two good students with lots of friends, who came to stockpile a basement cache of weapons, to record their raging hatred, and to manipulate every adult who got in their way. They left signs everywhere, described by Cullen with a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boy's tapes and diaries, Cullen gives the first complete account of the Columbine tragedy.

In the tradition of Helter Skelter and In Cold Blood, Columbine is destined to become a classic. A close-up portrait of hatred, a community rendered helpless, and the police blunders and cover-ups, it is a compelling and utterly human portrait of two killers--an unforgettable cautionary tale for our times.

My Review

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon this book recently, but once I read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read it soon. I was only about 10 years old when the shooting at Columbine happened, so I honestly didn't know much about it. I learned a little about it in school and when I watched Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore. But I really didn't know much of what the media portrayed it to be. All I knew going into this book was that jocks, bullies, and video games were blamed for why Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold committed this tragedy. 

I really loved the way this book was written. It starts out pretty early (within the first few chapters) with the school shooting. After that, it jumps back to Eric and Dylan's pasts; how they grew up and the events that led up to this. Meanwhile, goes back and forth between Eric and Dylan and the students and staff members that they killed and injured. I love that we were able to get to know the victims in this event and it didn't just focus on Eric and Dylan. And not only did we learn about the kids and teacher that died, but we also learned about the students who were injured and those who witnessed the event. 

I really learned a lot from reading this book. Clearly the information that the media received wasn't all that accurate. There doesn't appear to be any relation to jocks, bullies, or video games as to why Eric and Dylan committed this crime. Instead, they were two very troubled boys. Eric is thought to be a psychopath who went undiagnosed during his life; he simply enjoyed the thought of tormenting and killing people. It was a sad book to read, but very informative and I'm glad I read it. It also made me think a lot about how the media portrays things (not always their fault, just depends on the info they're given). 

I felt, and feel, incredibly bad for Dylan and Eric's parents. They are made out to be bad guys throughout this whole ordeal. I think we forget sometimes that while their sons committed awful crimes, these parents still lost a child. Looking back, maybe there were signs that the parents could have noticed. But I don't think any one of us would think our children would turn out to be killers. I just don't think we can blame the parents for something that their children did; the parents didn't commit these crimes. 

Overall, I thought this was a very good book and very educational. It really opened my eyes to a lot of the reasons why this tragedy may have occurred. I think if you're interested in learning more about this incident, and a little about psychology, you should pick this up. Very insightful. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

[Review] Finding Pride by Jill Sanders

Finding Pride by Jill Sanders
Series: The Pride #1
Publishing date: Dec. 21, 2013
Format: ebook
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


Megan Kimble has finally freed herself from years of abuse at the hands of her ex. Now she can finally start a new life and figure out just who she really is. When her brother Matt dies suddenly, she takes a big risk and moves cross country to live in his house and take over his new business. This could be the chance she’s needed. There’s only one problem now. She can’t seem to escape the irresistible charm of her departed brother’s best friend. 

Todd Jordan just lost his best friend and business partner. Watching Matt’s sister move into town, his attraction to her is instant. Can he prove to her that all men are not the same, and resist his own desires as she learns to trust again? Overcoming the odds is just part of their journey. The two must first survive a fateful visit from Megan’s ex to have any chance at happiness.

My Review

I downloaded this book when it was free on Amazon and I'm glad I found it. This book was fun but emotional dealing with loss of a loved one and domestic violence. Megan moves across country when her brother dies, moving into his house and continuing with his dream of creating a cozy, small resort. From the beginning of her new life in Pride, Megan is comforted by the Jordan siblings; Todd Jordan most of all. I liked watching these two characters slowly get to know each other and create a relationship. Megan is hesitant after her past relationship, but Todd knows how to treat her with care and show her not all men are as bad as her ex. 

I enjoyed this book and the characters; they were well developed and original. I'm interested in reading the next book in the series and those characters seem very promising as well!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

[Review] Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica

Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
Publisher: MIRA
Publishing Date: June 1, 2016
384 Pages
Format: ebook, ARC
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 4 stars


In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she's the person Quinn thought she knew. 

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected. 

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger's spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

My Review

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review. 

This is the first book I have read by Mary Kubica and it definitely won't be the last. I have The Good Girl on my shelf right now, which is why I requested this one through Netgalley. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to read this! 

I really enjoyed reading this book and I can't wait to read what else Kubica has to offer. This book takes place in Chicago and a small town in Michigan. Quinn is trying to figure out what happened to her roommate Esther, while Alex is trying to figure out a little about the mysterious girl who appeared in town. There are so many different things going on in this book, but I didn't find it confusing. The characters are interesting but I found myself annoyed a few times. Mostly because Quinn was so easy to jump to conclusions and Alex was so easy to believe everything this mysterious girl told him. But regardless of that, this was a very intriguing story. I couldn't figure out what was going on until the last few chapters. 

It wasn't a very fast-paced story, but it was steady and kept me interested the entire time. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stacking the Shelves 1.23.16

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga @ Tynga's Reviews. Its all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, whether physical or virtual books. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course, ebooks! Tynga posts this meme on Saturdays, but you can post on any day that works best for you! Check out the guidelines by visiting Tynga's blog! 

Library Haul

Columbine by Dave Cullen
I'm reading this one right now and it's very good! I was only 10 or so when this happened, so I honestly don't remember the details. What I learned about it mostly came from school and watching the Michael Moore film Bowling for Columbine (which I want to re-watch now). About halfway through this so far and I'm learning a lot that I never knew before. Very informative. 

My Story by Elizabeth Smart
This was an impulse selection at the library. I saw it displayed on the "Buzz Books" table and thought it was interesting. I've found that the older I get, the more I enjoy reading non-fiction work. 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 
I've heard a lot about this book and of course I've seen it on the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, so I thought I'd give it a try!

Thrift Store Haul

All James Patterson books this week! I couldn't pass them up as I got all four books for $5! I love when they're so cheap - it makes my book obsession a little easier to handle. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

[DNF Review] Ugly by Margaret McHeyzer

Ugly by Margaret McHeyzer
Publisher: Smashwords
Publishing date: Oct. 26, 2015
Format: ARC, ebook


If I were dead, I wouldn't be able to see.
If I were dead, I wouldn't be able to feel.
If I were dead, he'd never raise his hand to me again.
If I were dead, his words wouldn't cut as deep as they do.
If I were dead, I'd be beautiful and I wouldn't be so...ugly.
I'm not dead...but I wish I was.

*This is a dark YA/NA stand-alone, full-length novel. Contains violence.

My Review

*Might contain some spoilers*

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I couldn't finish this book. I made it about 50% of the way thcfrough, but had to stop. It wasn't that the book was bad; but I couldn't keep reading. Maybe that doesn't make sense, but I'm going to try to explain. This book is about domestic violence, first from Lily's father, and then from her husband. I don't mind reading emotional books or books about difficult topics, and honestly, I was looking for an emotion, deep book when I started reading this. The problem that I had with reading this is that it was starting to affect my mood. I found myself really down and easily annoyed. It's weird, but sometimes it happens when I read certain books; not just sad books, but for example, I read Still Alice by Lisa Genova and I thought I was constantly losing stuff and forgetting things while reading it. But anyways, I just couldn't keep feeling like that. I've learned a lot about domestic violence during my criminal justice school and law school; I even took classes specifically about it. So I know it's not as simple as walking away, moving in with a friend, etc. I just didn't want to keep reading about it when it was seriously affecting my mood. So I stopped. I wish I could have finished, but this wasn't for me. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

[Review] Stay Close by Harlan Coben

Stay Close by Harlan Coben
Publisher: Signet
Publishing Date: Feb. 12, 2013
446 Pages
Format: paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


The past never truly fades away...

Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but now he finds himself in a dead-end job posing as paparazzo. Broome is a detective who can’t let go of a cold case. 

Three people living lives they never wanted are hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect. And as each confronts the dark side of the American dream—the boredom of a nice suburban life, the excitement of temptation, the desperation and hunger that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades—they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper thin as a heartbeat.

My Review 

I think I say this every time I read one of his books: Harlan Coben is easily one of my favorite mystery/suspense authors. I first read one of his books about two years ago when I started my blog, and ever since then, I've been hooked. He creates a really great story that seems so real! This book was a lot of fun to read. I really liked all the characters, especially Megan and Broome. Megan, although she's lived a lie for quite some time, has her life together and tries to forget her past. But, like most people, her past creeps up on her and she can't overlook it now, so she goes back to Atlantic City. While there, she meets up with her ex, after not seeing him for nearly 17 years. Broome is trying to solve a murder that happened right before Megan fled Atlantic City, and Megan might hold a lot of information for him. 

As the story unfolds, there are so many twists and turns and I couldn't figure out what happened! It's one of those things that I love about mystery/suspense novels. Most of the characters are sympathetic and inserting; I really didn't like Ken and Barbie (you'll find out why in the book), and I wasn't a big fan of Ray. I don't know why, but I never clicked with him. Overall, a very good book that I enjoyed reading. I truly am a fan of Coben's work, and I can't wait to read more! 

Monday, January 11, 2016

[Review] Power Play by Sophia Henry

Power Play by Sophia Henry
Series: Pilots Hockey, #2
Publisher: Loveswept
Publishing Date: Feb. 16, 2016
232 Pages
Format: ebook, ARC
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


In Sophia Henry's blistering follow-up to Delayed Penalty, hailed as “sexy, fun, and full of angst” by L. P. Dover, a good girl and a hockey hunk face off against expectations—and this match is guaranteed to see plenty of action.

Beneath her innocent facade, Gabriella Bertucci has her reasons to be standoffish with guys. Especially guys like Landon Taylor, a star defenseman on the minor-league Detroit Pilots and the object of a serious crush since he first walked into her family's market. But when Landon comes through for her in a moment of crisis, Gaby starts to wonder if there might be more to Landon than hard muscles and fast skates.

Landon isn't afraid of telling Gaby that he's got it for her bad. The problem is, she seems unwilling to believe it. And though Landon enjoys his reputation as a cool-headed athlete, he hates losing—both on the rink and off. It's his competitiveness that makes him so damn good at what he does . . . but it also makes him just a little bit complicated.

One minute Gaby's tempted to give in; the next, she's getting cold feet. How can she trust a guy who's destined for bigger and better things to stick around? Then again, when Landon pulls her close with those powerful arms, the only thing that matters is right now.

My Review

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review. 

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Delayed Penalty, so I was excited to get into this book. I really love hockey and really, really love romances, so this is a great combination! I would say this book definitely caught my interest right away and I really like Gaby and Landon. They've both been crushing on each other for years, but neither knows it until Landon makes the first move. It's fun to watch their relationship grow. I don't like Gaby's dad; he's a chauvinist and doesn't treat women the same. I get that he changes a little in the end, but I'm not a big fan. And Landon was a bit selfish, but he's still a fun character to get to know. This was another book that I cruised through and I'm interested in reading others in the series!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

[Review] Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publishing Date: Aug. 27, 2013
304 Pages
Format: hardcover
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 3.5 stars


Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.

The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.

Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.

Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending... 

My Review

I received a copy of this book two years ago in a large giveaway I won from Simon Pulse. Unfortunately, it took this long for me to finally read it, but like most other people, my TBR is constantly growing!

This is the first book I've read by either Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young. I have The Program on my shelf (also from this giveaway), but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I wasn't quite sure what to think of this book after I finished reading it. I liked it, but didn't love it. It was very well written, but the storyline didn't hook me like I was hoping. What I really liked was the main theme of it not really mattering which path you choose because you'll end up right where you belong anyways. It's something that I think about with my husband, like, had I gone to another school, would I still have met him? Interesting to think about and I like how this book showed two different paths that Caroline took, how they affected her, and how they each ended for her. Pretty interesting concept, and although it wasn't my favorite book, I still really enjoyed it and will definitely read more by these authors. 

[Review] Best of Me by Elisabeth Barrett

The Best of Me by Elisabeth Barrett
Series: Return to Briarwood, #2
Publisher: Loveswept
Publishing Date: Jan. 5, 2016
Format: ebook, ARC
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


Jane Pringle never meant to fall for her boss. After landing a job as a pastry chef at the exclusive Briarwood Golf and Yacht Club in Eastbridge, Connecticut, she just wants to keep her son in a good school district and find some peace and quiet, far away from her manipulative ex-husband. But when Briarwood’s charismatic co-owner takes an interest in her, Jane’s best-laid plans go awry . . . in the sweetest way possible.

Rich and handsome, the grandson of one of the most powerful men in New York City, Preston North hasn’t lived quite the charmed life everyone believes. His family taught him everything he needs to know about betrayal—and Press wants no more of it. What he wants is Jane. The gorgeous single mom is selfless and kind, plus she’s got a backbone. To win her trust, Press just needs to shake off his playboy reputation.

They’ve each been burned in the past. But now Press and Jane will have to choose between letting their fears get the best of them . . . or breaking free and following their hearts.

My Review

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review. 

I read the first book in this series over my Christmas break from work and I fell in love with these characters, the community, and Barrett's writing style. I couldn't wait to read Jane and Preston's story in this book, so I dove right in! Let me tell you, it didn't disappoint! 

In Once and Again (review here) we met Jane and Preston, though briefly. We learned of struggles that Jane was going through, but not too much about Preston. In this book, we definitely find out more about Jane's struggles with her ex-husband and the lengths he will go to to make Jane's life difficult. Meanwhile, Preston appears completely in control of his life on the outside, but on the inside, he struggles with his father's death and his choices after. Both Jane and Preston are a little broken, but together, they complement each other perfectly. 

This book has very developed characters and I loved reading their story. Both Jane and Preston are easy to like and sympathize with, and they're strong in their own ways. Throughout the story, we see their struggles, but they help each other and grow to become and even stronger couple. You don't necessarily need to read the first book in this series before reading this one. The characters overlap, but the stories are stand-alones. 

Others in the Series

Once and Again by Elisabeth Barrett

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

[Review] Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown
Publisher: Grand Central
Publishing Date: 2014
Format: paperback and ebook
409 Pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 5 Stars


Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

While police suspect Jeff of "instant divorce," Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won't even tell her his name. She's determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive. 

Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can't turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law.

As the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer.

My Review

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for a honest review. So, I received a free copy of this but completely forgot and bought the book anyways! So I mostly read my paperback copy, but switched to the ebook version when I was at the gym. 

I'm a huge fan of everything Sandra Brown writes. I started out reading all of her romance novels and then I moved to her romantic suspense novels. I absolutely love her work and the romantic suspense novels are fantastic. This book was no exception and might be one of my favorites (maybe tied with Chill Factor). The characters in this book are very interesting and easy to like. Emory is a well-known doctor who goes missing and her husband is the prime suspect. But throughout the whole story, we get Emory's perspective, and she's not missing. There's so much going on throughout this book that it keeps you hooked. It's so fast-paced and I never really saw the end coming. I guessed a few things, but certainly not the biggest! 

I highly, highly recommend this book, or any other books by Brown. I can't wait to start reading Friction, the next on my list! 

*Book Tour* Heartsong by Sara Walter Ellwood

by Sara Walter Ellwood


Gabriel McKenna is living the dream. A rising country music star he’s no stranger to fame, money, or beautiful women. Despite his bad boy image, he’s also got a heart of gold, and when his ten-year-old brother is orphaned, he wants to take him under his wing. But the judge on the case is less than impressed by Gabe’s reputation and awards custody to the grandfather Gabe knows firsthand is abusive.

Michaela Finn is no stranger to heartache. Years ago she was engaged to Gabe McKenna, but two days before their wedding he ran off to Nashville with a female talent scout. Now Gabe is back in her life with an insane plan. Marry him, so he can get custody of his younger brother. Michaela can’t bear to think of any child being hurt, but she’s just not sure her heart can carry a happy tune when Gabe is playing lead…

Link to Follow Tour: 

Heartstrings, Book 1 is now available and Heartland, Book 3 is available for pre-order

My Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I finished this book in 2 days! Really, it was less than 24 hours, but spanned over 2 days. I've never read anything by this author before and I really enjoyed her work. Heartsong is a great romantic read and second chance novels are some of my favorite. I love when two people who used to be in love can find their way back to each other, even if their lives have taken them down different paths. Micki and Gabe were high school sweethearts who went separate ways when Gabe moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. The two never stopped loving each other, but it took a while for them to realize that. A tragedy brings these two back into each others lives and after a few interesting agreements, they're spending a lot of time together. I'm a big fan of Ellwood after reading this book and I really want to read the next! I do think Seth's story would have been interesting to read, but his daughter's will be just as great! 

About the Author

Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. Sara Walter Ellwood is a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the anthology set Cowboy Up. She also publishes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name Cera duBois.

Friday, January 1, 2016

[Review] Once and Again by Elisabeth Barrett

Once and Again by Elisabeth Barrett
Series: Return to Briarwood, #1
Publisher: Loveswept
Publishing Date: July 14, 2015
302 Pages
Format: ARC, ebook
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Goodreads rating: 5 stars


Growing up in Eastbridge, Connecticut, Carolyn Rivington was a young debutante who did whatever her parents asked. So when her father demanded that she break things off with the boy from the wrong side of the tracks or else, she did. Now Carolyn’s family is deep in debt. She’s no longer a member of the Briarwood Golf and Yacht Club, she’s an employee. And the tanned, tattooed, dangerously handsome stranger who saunters into her lobby isn’t just her new boss . . . he’s also her first love.

The last time he saw Carolyn, Jake Gaffney was in the back of a police cruiser, handcuffed and humiliated. But seeing her again stirs other memories: a blanket on the beach, the moon above their heads, and the most expensive bottle of wine he could afford. Now the tables have turned. As a real-estate magnate and Briarwood’s new owner, Jake doesn’t have to answer to anyone. But now that he’s back home, he’s finding it hard to live down his old reputation.

Before they can move forward, Jake and Carolyn must face their pasts. But it’ll take more than sizzling chemistry for them to heal old wounds and return to the love they once shared. 

My Review

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

What a great way to start out my new year for books! This was a great novel by Barrett. I started it this morning when I was biking at the gym, and finished it while my husband was playing video games. We had a very relaxing day and I'm glad I was able to enjoy this book during it!

Carolyn used to be very wealthy, but she learned about a yea ago that her family doesn't have any money left, and she doesn't know what to do. So she returns to Briarwood, a club that she grew up attending with her family, and the same place she met Jake 15 years ago. They had a young, forbidden romance and both ended up broken-hearted. Jake has now come back to Briarwood as well, and the two have to learn to work together to make this business successful. Both of these characters were easy to love and relate to. Carolyn, although born with a silver spoon, really has no idea how to survive without her family's wealth. But she learns the hard way and perseveres. Jake on the other hand, grew up with next to nothing and has made himself into a multi-millionaire. Both characters are very charismatic, and I immediately loved Jake. Seriously, who doesn't love a tatted, rough-around-the-edges guy? No brainer for me! 

I love that these two characters have a history together and are getting a second chance at love. They had a lot to overcome throughout the story, but made their love work. I also really loved that this novel wasn't just about these two. We find out a little about Jane, Carolyn's new friend, and her struggles, as well as legal problems that Carolyn is facing with her family. There's so much going on in this book and it was hard to put down! Which, clearly, I didn't do much, other than to get food (: Highly recommend! And I just got the second one in this series, which I can't wait to read! 

Next in this series: 

Best of Me by Elisabeth Barrett