Tag: 3.5 stars

An American Family by Jackson Baer

Author: Jackson Baer
Published: October 1, 2018
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened to: December 5-10, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

Isaac Childs has the perfect life—until that life comes crashing down when his wife Ramie vanishes.

Isaac learns that his wife’s disappearance is the ninth in a string of similar cases. In the wake of this news, he struggles to cope, to be a good father to his daughter and college-bound son, and to reclaim something of an ordinary life even as he conceals his troubled past.

After the FBI makes an arrest, and his wife is presumed dead, Isaac begins to move on. Yet will his secrets catch up with him? Has he conquered his vices for good? And what of the FBI’s theory that the case isn’t completely resolved, after all?

Evolved Publishing presents the first book in the “An American Family” series, contemporary suspense thrillers that explore one family’s trials and tragedies.

Jessica’s Review:

An American Family is a character driven novel with a family of imperfect people. Each character has issues, the main focus is Isaac. It was hard to like and feel for him.  This family went through something terrible that no one should experience but Isaac’s faults just kept coming. 

The novel is far from perfect: the writing comes off as juvenile and could have been written better.  For example, in the first chapter there were constant mentions of the crime shows that Isaac and Ramie watch and enjoy. I found myself wondering what I got myself into… and then something unexpected happened: I became invested in the story! I am from Georgia as is Baer, so I think part of what drew me in to the novel was hearing about locations I know: Whitlock in Marietta, The Chicken and the Egg (I have not eaten there yet, but know about it).  I kept wondering if ‘The Big Chicken’ was going to make an ‘appearance’ in the novel. (It doesn’t but that would have been awesome!).

I wanted to know how each family member was going to cope and move on from their loss.  Many of the twists were predictable, except for that final twist.  There is a second book called Life After Death which you will want to start once you finish An American Family.  I am listening to it now and should have it done quickly with the review posted soon.

**Special thanks to the author, Jackson Baer for sending me an audio copy to listen to and review via Love Books Group Tours. This was not part of a blog tour.**

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Blog Tour: Till it Stops Beating

Today I share my review on the blog tour for Till it Stops Beating by Hannah R. Goodman.  This one was published on July 5th!

Book Description:

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman’s senior year begins with the good (the reemergence of The One That Got Away), the bad (a cancer diagnosis, not hers, but it might as well be) and the WTF (an anxiety attack that renders her writhing on the floor like an upside down crab).

Adding to her spiraling anxiety is Senior Project, in the form of I’ve Decided To Write A Book about The Other One That Got Away (And Crushed My Heart). Compounding it all is applying to college and keeping up with her friends. The ever mounting stress eventually rips her tight grip on all that she holds dear.

Her break down leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers she must risk everything in order to really live.

Author: Hannah R. Goodman
Published: July 5th, 2018
216 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read:
September 28-October 6, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Jessica’s Review:

I did not realize this was book four in The Maddie Chronicles when I started it. The first three in the series are:

My Sister’s Wedding
My Summer Vacation
Fear of Falling

When I found out it was the fourth then things made sense: I felt I was ‘missing’ pieces of information during the first part of the novel. I would advise you to read the others in the series before reading Till it Stops Beating.

OK, now that that is over…..

Till it Stops Beating  is a coming of age novel for Maddie.  She is transitioning from childhood to adulthood and along the way faces some difficult issues, among them anxiety and cancer. Hannah also deals with heartbreak in relationships, family issues and of course: jelly doughnuts. The first few chapters had me craving doughnuts!

Goodman did a good job capturing a teen dealing with anxiety and an unknown future that makes up one’s senior year of high school, which really is a year of change and big decisions. Then in addition to all of that, she has to deal with a relative’s cancer diagnosis and that unknown can be heartbreaking

I enjoyed the second part immensely; I felt I really got to know Maddie through the road trip she took with friends. 

You will laugh and might tear up reading this one. The ending is a pleasant one with hope for the future. And the title just gives you all the feelings once you have finished the novel!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the Author:

Often referred to as “the teenage whisperer”, Hannah R. Goodman’s twenty-year career working with teenagers includes the titles teacher, tutor, coach, and, more recently, mental health counselor. Hannah has written essays about mental health for various online publications. Her work has appeared on MindBodyGreenOC87 Recovery Diaries,  Zencare.co, and The Mighty. Though she has previously earned the title author with her first three books, the last was released in 2009 and all were self-published. This time around, indie publisher Black Rose Writing released her novel Till It Stops Beating this summer.

Hannah’s  first YA novel, My Sister’s Wedding, won the first place award for The Writer’s Digest International Self-Publishing Contest, 2004, children’s book division. She published the follow-up, My Summer Vacation, in May 2006, which went on to win a bronze IPPY in 2007. The third Maddie book, Fear of Falling, was released in the fall of 2009 and was praised by teachers and readers for tackling subjects like homophobia and coming out. She’s published young adult short stories on Amazon’s Shorts, in an anthology entitled Bound Is The Bewitching Lilith, and in the journal Balancing The Tides. She also has written columns for The Jewish Voice & Herald. Recent, previous projects include Sucker Literary, which features emerging YA authors and All The Way YA, a group blog of writers telling the real deal about writing and publishing YA fiction. 

Hannah is a member of  ARIA  (Association of Rhode Island Authors) as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Program in Creative Writing where she earned an MFA in Writing For Young People. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and black and white cat named Zoe.

Contact Hannah:
Website
Twitter @hannahrgoodman
Goodreads
Instagram
Amazon Author Central
Linkedin

 

 

 

 

 

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After Nightfall by A.J. Banner

Author: A.J. Banner
Published: August 7, 2018
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 27- August 8, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

Beware of friends with secrets…

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

Bestselling author A. J. Banner keeps readers on a razor-sharp edge in this intricately plotted novel of psychological suspense…in which nothing is as it seems.

Jessica’s Review:

Marissa just got engaged and they are throwing a party…. Which went far from what was planned…. After Nightfall is a mystery with a twist- What happened to Marissa’s friend Lauren? Was she pushed, did she jump, or was it an accidental slip? You never know who to believe, including our narrator, and doubt is thrown on ALL characters! Every character has secrets and when it comes to the conclusion it’s not a shocker as to ‘the who’ or ‘what actually happened’, it was a more of an ‘oh wow, why did I not see that coming!?!?!!!’ 

I did feel my attention wander some, not the author’s fault as it is well written, it was the narrator for me. I’m not really sure what it was about her voice, but I know I missed some elements of the story as I listened. The ending seemed abrupt to me.  This will be one I plan to listen to again.  Maybe it will be better on a second listening.

Many thanks to the author, A.J. Banner for sending me an MP3 audio copy which I voluntarily read.  I look forward to reading her second novel The Twilight Wife which I own, but have not been able to read yet.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

 

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