Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

From Good Reads

Let me just call it like I see it- Taylor Swift fanfiction.

You know it. I know it. Delilah Montgomery is young Taylor Swift. Matt is based off one of those Jonas Brothers.

It was mildly entertaining but the style the story was told in was terrible. Mostly because it would switch in the middle of a scene.  One moment the protagonist Reagan, is recounting a scene like she is telling us like a memory but then wham! it’s like on going action that is unraveling in front of you. It’s sporadic and not well done. Even if it was well done that memory/recount into on going action doesn’t work well with contemporary fiction. It works well with Secondhand Lions and The Great Gatsby.

Anyway, the characters were totally predictable and for a story with a character driven plot- double ouch. Not to say that at times it wasn’t mildly entertaining.  I did snort out in laughter at some of the quips and my favorite part of the whole book was the improv lyrics that Matt sang under Reagan’s window.

Matt, Reagan, and Dee plus all the auxiliary characters felt so 2-D because their characters were built off cliches that didn’t deviate from the mold. We were suppose to be given some insight into fame but that didn’t happen either. Though the relationship dynamics of Dee and Reagan are refreshing. It is nice to see two girls that truly get along and help each other. The obligatory fight with Dee and Reagan came out of blue, the content wasn’t believable, and not for one minute did the audience believe it was going do harm to their friendship.

The romantics in this book were boring. Dee’s not relationship with Jimmy was refreshing at first, then her revelation at the end was beautiful but the way the author wrote their eventual confrontation was a disappointment. I thought Dee would embrace her epiphany but instead it seemed like she just picked up where her and Jimmy left off. Reagan’s relationship with Blake was mildly interesting but the audience was left with no doubts about the general events that ended that relationship, learning the specifics was only solidified the evidence. Reagan’s relationship with Matt did not give me any feels.  It had a very predictable order of events with a very predictable resolution. Spoiler: I did hope that Lord would surprise us with an ending that left both girls independent of men and ready to face the world together.

The redeeming quality of this book is that the heroines were not total drips. They did not have completely immature and illogical behaviors. The adults characters did exhibit some adult behaviors which was also nice which is why I am giving the book 3 out of 5 irises.

Three Irises from Positive Creations, dlhorch

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Stole the picture from Goodreads

In the past I have really like Rainbow Rowell writing. Attachments, not so much. I understand this was Rowell’s first novel and I think it shows. Everything feels super contrived.

So, this novel is about Lincoln, basically 90’s loser that is cute. Today he would probably fall into the hipster category. The original hipsters, the ones that didn’t try. He is, what amounts to, an internet night watch man. He reads his co-workers emails in case they are breaking company policy. Meet Beth and Jennifer-they don’t care about company policy. They rattle about personal problems all the time. This is where it starts to turn fake and plastic like, other than Lincoln being cliche. We, the readers, only get to read exchanges from Beth and Jennifer. Sure, we hear that others vaguely exist but we only get the exchanges from Beth and Jennifer. There were so many missed opportunities with this to built Lincoln and add interest.

Jennifer and Eve were probably the best characters in the book. Lincoln didn’t disappoint me, but he didn’t wow me either. Beth was….okay. Chris wasn’t believable, like at all. Lincoln’s mom was a typical mom, nothing too exciting going on there. Doris was also a pleasant character but it felt so convenient for her to appear. Then there was the subplot and backstory Sam, believable but so flat and boring. She was “different” in a trendy sort of way and she was extremely predicable. These clauses are oxymoronic (I’m making that a word!) which sums up Sam. The Dungeons and Dragons gang was alright. I don’t understand anything about that so I felt a touch lost. Then there is Justin, a walking cliche. SPOILER ALERT: I’m sure him and Dena will be divorced within a year. Justin is a total tool.

All the cliche movie references were kind of annoying. I was surprised there wasn’t more internet shorthand in the emails. The plot was pretty stale, especially for a publish date of 2011, even though it was a throwback. Maybe I just can’t appreciate throwbacks? Not sure.The ending was very OOC. I had to back up a page because I thought I missed something. Anyone that’s read it, please tel me if you agree.If you want something cutesy to read, go ahead, this isn’t terrible but don’t expect the fantastic work of Fangirl in Attachments.

I give Attachments a 2.5 rainbows out of 5.

Found on Google Search

The Secret Place by Tana French

Image from GoodReads

Let me start by fan girling over here…and over there and every where. I love Tana French. I first picked up Into the Woods in high school and it intrigued me but I had no money to buy it. My dear sweet Rob G bought it for me and it was all over from there. Tana French gripped me and never let go. French was the first author that I was ever mad at but still in awe. All over her books have engrossed me and spit me out feeling feelings unknown to me in complicated way.

This book has a little bit of everything-murder, boarding school, best friends forever, ghosts, Frank Mackey, pop music, boy problems, secret places, and edgy motives for the characters. I liked it, a lot but it wasn’t love.

The beginning of The Secret Place was very underwhelming. The characters are beautiful complex as normal but the plot is just a thin, ragged sheet holding the book together. However, I think it was that way by design. Moran has a lot of hope riding on a wisp of maybe evidence and it makes the audience in tune with him-like it could fall apart any second and we could be back to our old lives. My favorite thing in the beginning is when Detective Moran interviews these girls at a boarding school. He is so adept at reading them that it makes me wonder if he is too good.

After that scene with Moran and the girls the plot thickens and comes together. It becomes real and then suddenly I’m invested. This middle section has a lot of flashbacks and not a whole lot of detecting which is fun but I was hoping for more of a balance. The investigation is what is, for me, driving the plot. Conway and Moran are getting along too well but I don’t expect that to continue.

The meat of the book contains fantastic character development and a slow unveiling of the events led up to the murder. I am not disappointed in the least with the quality of the mystery. I don’t know who did it just because there are so many possibilities on how it could play out. In true French fashion, nothing is cut and dry.

When Frank Mackey arrives on the scene I am blown away. You get this feeling that everything in his career has led up to this moment, and while he might feel guilty for causing it, he is prepared to handle the situation. I seriously have a crush on this guy even though he’s old and not real. Frank is a welcome explosion in this case. So much is tightly wound and he is blaring. The contrast really increases the divide between the girls and the adults. It becomes harder and harder to identify with these boarding school girls the more you learn about how twisted they are. Frank is this crashing force that pushes everything apart.

As the book concludes, the identity of the murder slaps me and I feel stupid. I don’t like it, in a good way. I don’t like how they use the ghost either, in a bad way, but everything is ending much cheerier than other French books. I am still left feeling overwhelmed about what happened despite the almost lovely ending. I have come to really appreciate the whole back story. It’s delightful.

Audiobook: The girl narrator annoyed me and distracted me from the story in the beginning but I either got over it or the story got so good it didn’t matter because 2/3 through I found myself not minding at all.. The guy narrator’s voice of Julia was horrid. Redo?

Overall I give this book 4.5 hoes out of 5.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

In Honor of TBT: Here is the first review I wrote! When I started, I wrote with spoilers, so beware.

This book is about a princess trusted with special destiny in a fantasy world. Sounds boring already. The characters could have been so stale. The gender role bashing could have been eye roll worthy. The culture blending could have been so fake and over done. But it wasn’t.

From the first page Carson ignored pretenses practically required for writing this kind of story. Young princess in an arranged marriage that isn’t prattling about how unfair life is and how she wants true love? My hopes soared. A princess that isn’t a size zero and has trouble with over eating?  Normal sibling rivalry? I got scared in the next chapter I would be let down because everything good was in chapter one.

No. Nothing let me down, well…nothing serious.

Spoilers may exist from this point on-Read at your own risk.

The first showing casing of Elisa’s intelligence comes when she takes her sister’s advice. The sister she doesn’t like. The sister that is better at politics than Elisa. More than two thirds of young adult heroines would never do that. They have to be free and learn from their mistakes and yada yada yada.

The attitude that Elisa has toward her arranged married and Alejandro is jaw dropping-ly appropriate. She doesn’t balk at it, she doesn’t have false expectations about insta love, and she is clear about her desires. She tells her husband/acquaintance  right off the bat-“I don’t want to be intimate tonight.”

What a novel idea, communicate with words your feelings/preferences/control instead of acting crazy. Since Alejandro isn’t a scum bag, he completely respects that.

There is no insta love with anyone. Love isn’t even central to the story-plenty happens without it, like war council, kidnapping, battles, losing important people.

Oh and a mystical god gave her a belly jewel that makes her special and appropriately, she is pious, yet struggles with her faith. Some people think that makes this Christian Lit. I’m going go with no, while they might have a lot of common elements I am sensing Carson is just accurately portraying someone that had something supernatural happen to her in which her society has an explanation that works. The religion portrayed in this book has common themes with Christianity but I would not say parallels it.

I also love how Elisa isn’t an island. I mentioned this before, but Elisa doesn’t ignore everyone’s advice and just do in heart what she feels is best without reasons to back it up. She listens to the people that she respects and she learns without having to make disastrous mistakes. Yet, you never feel that Elisa is a puppet because she makes her own choices after mulling things over plus she has character growth over the course of the novel. She starts out self centered and then starts caring about the people around her more. She learns about her own abilities and their limits. She makes mistakes because she isn’t experienced and some have disastrous results. This makes her worthy of role model status.

Now the other characters are not as well developed.  Rosario, her nurse, Cosme, Humberto…they are multi-faceted but I don’t think they get the depth they deserve. Hopefully in future novels this will change. Alejandro did get a fair amount of depth but without true exploration. This is actually a good choice on Carson’s part  because there wasn’t time in Elisa’s life to truly get to know him. Elisa, and the audience, learned that he was complex but that was it.

I think Humberto’s death was appropriate. Too often love interests are saved by the author just because they are love interest. The world is cruel, war is brutal, and killing your enemies’ treasured ones is effective. Not killing them removes the horribleness of war.

Now, Elisa started off the novel overweight but then she goes through a tough physical trial and slims down. A lot people also had a problem with that because she changed herself. That is ridiculous. Elisa grew as a human being to have more self control and endurance and people are mad about that? Elisa is stronger for this change, not weaker. I applaud Carson for this realistic choice.

Some of the bad things-a few haired brained schemes worked when they shouldn’t have but this fantasy so I’ll let it go. The antagonist were not super developed and there should have been more time spent developing them, especially individual leaders.  And finally, after being made Queen Regent over the land Elisa carves off a part for a new country and makes a new Queen. Woah. No way is the Quorum going to be peaceful about that or the public.


I will be reading more of this series, I will be reading more from Carson, and hopefully if just gets better. I will give this book 4.5/5 roses for good writing and refreshing characters.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Here is another review I’m moving over here from Blogger!

I loved this book in a way that is pure enjoyment. It was like going to an amusement park, yes there were some cliches but there was also the unexpected and the entertainment was refreshing. I purchased this in actual, page turning book form which I haven’t done in ages but am so glad that I did. It is a quick read, I read it in two nights but could have done it in one if my personal life wasn’t demanding attention.

The plot had a lot of the basics, bad guy that does bad things for power; confused, inexperienced protagonist that turns out to be something special, parental units that hide what is really going on, and a beautiful, strong willed love interest. That being said, the execution was fantastic and I’ve never read about a necromancer before. The plot moved along quickly but without feeling rushed. There was a good balance of world building and action. One that initially bothered me but later did not was the change in POV. This book, while dark at times, actually had a fun feel. I appreciate the optimism and humor found throughout this book. I didn’t have a problem accepting anything but the ending. Actually one specific part of the ending—SPOILER ALERT— the part with detective investigating Brooke showed up and they told him everything. It was obviously a set up for something that comes later and it could have been done better.

The character’s in this were great, they felt like people instead of just roles with names performing. That is really my biggest thing while reading, I want my characters to be human like and not feel fake. This cast of characters was bigger than most, and I loved that too. I hate it when the main character is just an entity without participation in society. Sam was such a great embodiment of this: he lived in his own apartment, had a relationship with his mom that was relevant, had multiple friends that he actually cared about, and wasn’t a stranger to love (I am specifically referring to an emotional capacity.) Ramon, Brooke, and Frank all got varying levels of development depending on their relation to Sam which was totally appropriate but the best part was the relationships changed and grew. They didn’t stay stagnate.

Overall I would recommend this book to 16+ year olds and I give it 4 out of 5 zombies.

From SSpike’s Photobucket

Delirium series by Lauren Oliver

Overall, it wasn’t for me. I kept reading because the first book ended and I wanted to see how the main character, Lena, would handle the tragic ending. So I read Pandemonium which was much better than the first book but it’s ending twist wasn’t surprising at all. The third book I only started because I had it on my on phone. The third book has been the biggest disappointment. Lena’s maturity spirals away from her. The best part about the third book is the POV from Hana. Please proceed with caution, as spoilers are present, especially for book one.

The first book, Delirium, sets up a world where at 18, everyone gets a procedure that “protects” them from love. They will not longer love and thus be happier because there won’t be any heart break, no coveting, irrational behavior, ect. The author tried really hard to sell this concept and even though I didn’t buy it because people that can’t love and can’t hate wouldn’t be able to deal with children and teenagers that can. Also, because without love/hate our society might fall apart because it would destroy our sense of “care about that young child” and it would create a lot of sociopaths. But for the sake of entertainment I decide to ignore this and proceed with blinders. Lena the MC, is just a girl with family problems that worried about getting paired, by the government, and which college she will be assigned. She worries about becoming infected with “love” before her procedure but counts down the days until she will be safe. Her best friend Hana is a little more rebellious and introduces Lena to world that goes against the grain, which Lena balks at but you guessed it-she meets a rebellious boy, Alex. We get a sweet love story that transforms Lena from a blind follower to a “free thinker”. Of course they are caught and have to escape. It is entertaining, but not really substantive. The ending is a cliff hanger in which Alex is shot a bunch and left with the bad guys while Lena flees. I was impressed that the author attempt to kill Alex off, but wasn’t sure if it would stick. Overall I give this book three empty houses out of five.

The second book, Pandemonium, was my favorite in the series. The book is told in two phases-“Now” and “Then”. This was a good choice by the author because it fulfills the readers curiosity about how Lena recovered from book one’s ordeal without slowing down the action for the overall book. The Lena of “Then” is contrasted with the Lena of “Now” very well. You never feel like they are two different characters but that these two different phases in life are converging. It builds the drama well. We also get a good look at some new characters. Raven and Tack are handled well and like with Lena’s “Now” and “Then” you get a sense of how they developed which is very helpful because we don’t know them at all before this book. The only thing I will note is that the editing could have been better. There were some inconsistencies with the character’s descriptions, like Tack. Then there is Julian. He only appears in the “Now” section. Julian is a great character. He challenges Lena, he helps Lena, and he is considerate toward Lena. I also liked the plot of this book. The worst thing about this book was the ending. It was suppose to be this great shocking plot twist that CHANGED EVERYTHING. It wasn’t, it wasn’t even shocking, it was expected. It would have been more surprising if it hadn’t happened and honestly probably would have made the third book better. I give this book four riots out of five.

The third book was a mess. I’m not exactly sure what the plot was suppose to be, so we are going to call it a chronicle of Lena’s life and a chronicle of Hana’s life. Lena, as a character, acted like a spoiled high school girl and not a hardened warrior. She lost the maturity that she won in Pandemonium. Most of the book was spent agonizing/interacting with the love triangle. When there were scenes with other characters, they did not seem to go with general flow of the story. It’s like the author sat down and wrote “the love story” all the way through, then went back and peppered scenes with other characters in.  Julian, I am going to say has some character development but it was glanced over. I have nothing but eye rolling for Alex- there was almost no direct interaction with him, mostly observational which is messy. Think Edward Cullen in New Moon. (I cringed too.) This was emphasized with the POV switch to Hana. Hana’s story was interesting and I was most invested in what was happening to her than anything else. She had a lot to deal with and it was interesting to see how she managed despite being warped by a procedure that severely put her at a disadvantage. The ending to this book is left open for both Hana and Lena. The author knows how to write an ending, so I am sure this was done deliberately in hopes of continuing the series. Lena’s ending made my eyes roll but Hana’s mysterious ending was much more acceptable. I give this book two red birds out five. [Run!]

Is it just me or do these covers give off the “Garden of Eden”  but creepy vibe?


Death of A Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen

From GoodReads

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman is another ARC review. This is a historical mystery with a lot of Downton Abbey vibes. I love that this book was told from multiple perspectives in both narration and class. Clementine Montfort, the lady, and Edith Jackson, the head housekeeper, have such distinct voices it was easy to bounce between them. Arlen’s style of writing was dense but not overly flowery. The tone that she set really helped solidify the setting and her massive vocabulary was refreshing. She used the word vixen to talk about an actual fox, it was marvelous.

The mystery here settles around Lady Montfort’s murdered nephew, Teddy Mallory. By all accounts, Teddy was a scoundrel so naturally there are plenty of suspects. Thankfully the author included two other mysteries to go along with the main plot-a maid and a young lady, apparently unconnected went missing. With the cunning of Mrs. Jackson, and the determination of Lady Montfort, the mystery plays out in a very entertaining way. I did enjoy the resolution of this mystery much more than Dubiosity.

The historical timeline entwined with this book was very informative and relative. I enjoyed the history lesson and the multiple opinions that were explored. I also loved the dedication of the character to morality and manners. There was just something very noble about characters that actually cared about honor, loyalty, and respect.

Lady Montfort was handled well. The slow unraveling of her character’s developed help hold interest when the narrative became too dense. I enjoyed her wit, not over whelming but present, and her tenacious demeanor. The way she interacted with her husband and son really highlighted her intelligence. Her confrontations with Mr. Barclay and Gertrude were fantastic.

My favorite character was Mrs. Jackson. She was proper and intelligent. She did the legwork of this investigation which turned up many interesting tid bits. I can just picture her put in some sort of put in some sort of life or death circumstances and still managing to keep her principles while making it out in one piece. One of my favorite pieces of her depth was her fascination with the talented gardener she kept at a distance and lack of mention to Mr. Jackson. This mystery about her really balanced out her sometimes severe personality.

Arlen was able to add depth to the story with the other character’s backstories, though not all were developed and I admit to having a small problem keeping all the young bachelors straight at times. While some supporting character’s were developed well like Gertrude, others were not. Lord Haversham, while explored moderately, was not nearly as developed as I hoped.

There were some issues I want to address. The narrative was too rich for my tastes, it made the plot drag a bit even if it was skillfully done. The author showed wonderful bouts of dialogue that were beautiful and pieced together well but that did not permeate the entire book. The side story with Barclay and Mallory was not quite believable, nor did it seem to serve a purpose to the story other than making it politically correct. The chapters told from Lord Montfort’s perspective lacked the distinct voice that the chapters from Lady Montfort’s perspective and Mrs. Jackson’s perspective had.

Overall this was a good read and I would recommend it for fans of Downton Abbey, there were many similarities to this book and that show. A very strong four out of five footmen.

From Google Search

Dubiosity by Christy Barritt

Image from GoodReads

Dubiosity is my first ARC review and boy, it was a good one! This book centers around Savannah Harris and unraveling her town’s mysterious disappearances and how they link to other crimes. It was very easy to slide into because of the author’s charming writing style.

The author takes her time with the Savannah’s character development and despite early signs the MC might develop into a Mary Sue, does a good job connecting with the audience. At first, I thought Savannah’s grief fell a little flat but I changed my mind. Savannah is a rare female lead that can distance herself from her emotions to a certain extent. Savannah is balanced in the sense that she makes important decisions based on both logic and emotions. Savannah was also very candid about her short-comings and lack of moral fiber. This was so refreshing than the normal justification process that so many main characters go through. Savannah goes through a lot of changes in this book, from guilty to free, reclusive to curious, and cold to welcoming. As good as Savannah was developed, there were inconsistencies. I did find it strange that she didn’t freak out more about a strangers being in her house and that a creative journalist would name her cat “Tiger” for such obvious reasons.

Clive, is not handled as skillfully as Savannah. He comes off as an obvious good guy very early in the book. The first obvious clue-he drives a Jeep! It is a well known fact villains are not capable of driving such a fun vehicle. Plus having the bad guy living on the property just would have made it too easy to be bad and not romantic. Clive is suddenly revealed to be a fake name about 80% (or more) of the way through the book and suddenly his name changed to Jack. It was jarring and strange. I don’t think the author should have changed the narration like that so close to the end of the book.

That brings us to the mystery. The mystery element was more complex than usual but I loved it. I really enjoyed the chasing the answers down to each piece. Barritt engaged me and kept me guessing for most of the book. I did not loose interest in plot and the romance/subplots did not over power the main mystery. While I won’t ruin the ending of the mystery, I will say that the conclusion wasn’t dazzling.

The spiritual turning point for Savannah felt sudden and rushed at the end. It sort of hit me out of left field, especially the intensity. There was a little bit of gradual change but it was like walking into the surf and you get about 6 inches in, then suddenly with one step you are blindsided by a drop off and in over your head. Everything else spirituality-wise was wonderful and I could appreciate Savannah’s and Clive’s struggles. The spiritual element balance in this book was also done extremely well. I was very worried at the beginning that either the spirituality in this book would be “cafeteria Christian” style or every single thing would be “over spiritualized” but everything was well balanced. (There was one cheesy moment, but I’ll let it slide.) This was my best experience with Christian literature so far.

I give Dubiosity, four apples of five and would recommend this book those that enjoy tasteful mysteries.

Reading Challenge 2015


This year I decided to create myself I a reading challenge. For the purpose of this challenge “read” can mean reading traditionally with text or listening to audio books. Also, some books can fall into multiple categories. For example, if my Cita wants me to read “How To Win Friends and Influence People” in January that also counts a a non-fiction. (He does). 


Reading Challenge 2015

Total Books: 75

Books Of My Cita’s Choosing: 12  

NonFiction: 4

Read 15 Books from the Old Testament (Counts as 1 Book toward the 75)

Only While Exercising: 12

Classics, no rereads: 4

Set In Florida: 2

Set In Prague: 1

Pulitzer Prize Winners: 3 

ReRead: 2

From the Following Genres: 

Historical Fiction-1
Christian Literature-3
Adult Fantasy-4

Non Direct Goals:

Write Reviews: 21

Now this might be a bit sketchy as far as “reading” but I am going to put it in here anyway-

Complete Zombie, Run App

  (Don’t know what that is- review:

To Diversify: 

This year I really hope to read more books told from a male prospective. It feels like every book I pick up in YA has a female lead protagonist. So I quantified my readings for 2014 regardless of audience: 33 were told from a female perspective, 12 from a male, and 23 from both/neither. The both/neither category was strong but I would really like to see stronger representation from the male perspective.

Wish Me Luck! 

Honest Fiction Reviews