The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon

Blurb:
23252517If I tell you right up front, right in the beginning that I lost him, it will be easier for you to bear. You will know it’s coming, and it will hurt. But you’ll be able to prepare.

Someone found him in a laundry basket at the Quick Wash, wrapped in a towel, a few hours old and close to death. They called him Baby Moses when they shared his story on the ten o’clock news – the little baby left in a basket at a dingy Laundromat, born to a crack addict and expected to have all sorts of problems. I imagined the crack baby, Moses, having a giant crack that ran down his body, like he’d been broken at birth. I knew that wasn’t what the term meant, but the image stuck in my mind. Maybe the fact that he was broken drew me to him from the start.

It all happened before I was born, and by the time I met Moses and my mom told me all about him, the story was old news and nobody wanted anything to do with him. People love babies, even sick babies. Even crack babies. But babies grow up to be kids, and kids grow up to be teenagers. Nobody wants a messed up teenager.

And Moses was messed up. Moses was a law unto himself. But he was also strange and exotic and beautiful. To be with him would change my life in ways I could never have imagined. Maybe I should have stayed away. Maybe I should have listened. My mother warned me. Even Moses warned me. But I didn’t stay away.

And so begins a story of pain and promise, of heartache and healing, of life and death. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and never-endings. But most of all…a love story.

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My Review:
4 stars — I’m often loathe to read books that are so highly regarded by so many people, b/c I’m always worried I will be the black sheep.  And I sort of am in a way for this book, in that unlike my friends, this was not a full 5 star read for me.  In fact, part 1 was not super compelling for me.  Ms. Harmon’s writing is really beautiful, but it’s not always my favourite style personally.  It’s really…lyrical?  Or you know, just more formal and literary-like than is usually my bag.  I just end up enjoying more straightforward writing sometimes.  Ms. Harmon is actually one of the few authors that tends to break me from my norm b/c her storylines are just very heartfelt and emotional, and they are worth taking me outside my comfort zone.

I was so glad that a few of my friend’s reviews mentioned that this story had a paranormal aspect, b/c I would have been really surprised otherwise.  Not that I don’t love a paranormal touch, but I hadn’t expected it from this story when I bought it so long ago.  But it was really intriguing, and I loved the way it was woven into the story, and the way it was described.  And how it changed and molded Moses, and how it affected his relationship with Georgia.

So why did Part 1 not compel me?  It was Moses.  He was kind of a dick.  I mean, I could sort of understand why he was the way he was, and I sort of understood how he became that way and why he acted the way he did towards Georgia…but at the same time I needed something to pull me in, and I don’t feel like I got enough from his perspective to really have me give him enough benefit of the doubt.

And Georgia was definitely more interesting of a character, but I couldn’t always understand who she was all the time either.  But I think that’s my failing, not the failing of the book.  I enjoyed how different she was, how spunky and straightforward and how she saw something special in Moses.

I didn’t expect all the different aspects to the story…not just the paranormal aspect, but the mystery as well.  And while I could see that the mystery was going to come into play, I can say that I didn’t predict the outcome to that at all.  And while I knew this book was going to slay me, I don’t think I knew in quite what way and so it still really got me.  I’m definitely glad I packed my pockets full of kleenexes for the end of this story, b/c I used them all.

So in the end it was part 2 that really made this book for me.  It was full of heartache and beauty and growth and just sucked me in and made me feel and gave me exactly what I was looking for.  And now I’m definitely going to have to read Running Barefoot.  Super intrigued.  And that’s my distracted review.

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STATUS by Jordan Belcher

statusBlurb: In social media, nothing is what it seems … Tyesha Fenty is a beautiful 22-year-old mother of one very precocious little girl—and an unashamed internet addict. Between taking care of her daughter and posting updates about her life via the Web, Tyesha stresses over love and family. The father of her child is a spiritually devout drug dealer named Rodrick Al-Bashir who has a thing for other women. And her mother, Velma Fenty, is a widowed hoarder on the verge of losing her house.

Stalking is the least of Tyesha’s worries, until one of her social media “friends” starts showing up at her gym, at her job, and at her home. Soon tragedy strikes, and when detectives catch her stalker—and just as quickly release him—Tyesha is forced to take matters into her own hands.

Be careful what you post … he’s watching …

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This book satisfies my African-American mystery book spot.

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2 stars

The blurb was written amazing and the cover was great too; it is what initially caught my eye.

But this book wasn’t very good for me. There is hardly any showing but loads of telling. The action scenes are poorly described and the kid seemed to have been thrown in as a plot device. There were hardly any emotions written so it was hard to know what anyone was feeling. And there was little to no character development. No growth at all. The only good thing about this book is the dialogue. But it far outweighed any anything else so the book seemed a bit lopsided.

I didn’t get how having a guy stay faithful to you meant you won over some over bitches or you were better than them. It really just made her look stupid. As if the dude dealing drugs was such a great catch. She had an AA degree and worked at the DMV! She was the catch for him. And her friends were assholes. They treated her like crap and she seemed way more concerned with how she looked online than how she actually felt.

The way the story played out could have been excellent and I think it had great potential. But the characters need to be more fleshed out and emotive. I especially loved how her life was online, that part I can relate to and is the main reason I picked this book to read for my book bingo challenge. I don’t think I will read the rest of the series though, it just had too many cons and not enough pros.

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Chasing Truth by Julie Cross

Blurb:
30151392At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

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My Review:
4 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

So I think I requested this book from NetGalley because it was touted as being for fans of Veronica Mars, and since I am a fan this intrigued me.  And I can wholeheartedly say that it really did remind me of that beloved TV series!  I mean, Ellie gets her smarts in a completely different way, but she is sassy, somewhat damaged, resourceful just like Veronica.  And then there’s the whole trying to solve the mystery of a friend’s death thing.  Yup, definitely shades of VM season 1.  So if you enjoy that show, I would definitely give this book a shot.

What’s really great is that it was also a TINY bit outside my wheelhouse in that I don’t read a lot of mystery type novels, but there was definitely a mystery to solve in this book!  And you know what?  It was super fun to come up with theories as the story went along!  I will say that I called one of the bad guys from pretty early on, and didn’t waver too much from that position — yay me!  Not sure if that was good hinting on the author’s part, or if I’m just SMRT.  But I had a lot of fun with it, and in general I thought the mystery was laid out well and there were no big plot holes or anything like that (which is where I tend to get frustrated with mystery books).

As for my favourite part of all books I read, the characters in this book were generally super solid.  Ellie was a great heroine to read from, as I said she was both sassy and vulnerable and it made it easy to love her and feel for how she grew up and how she sees herself now.  I was a little disappointed that she didn’t guess certain things about Miles.  I mean, I totally guessed things about Miles, though I can happily say that what I guessed wasn’t completely correct, so I was nicely surprised with who he was.  But for a con artist and people reader like Ellie, I really thought she would have at least made a guess about him at some point.

Miles was an interesting foil for Ellie, with his need for strict rule following.  I liked that even though we never got anything from his POV, I feel like I knew who he was.  And their chemistry was awesome, both in their friendship/partners type way and in a romantic type way.  I enjoyed where their relationship went, and felt like it was true to both of them.

And this book was actually pretty packed with secondary characters, from Ellie’s sister Harper and Harper’s boyfriend Aiden (both of whom I adored, and can’t help but want to see their backstory — prequel novella anyone?).  To Miles’s parents (even if they only made a brief appearance) and Uncle Clyde.  To the memory of Simon.  To even Justice, Dominic, Bret (I know he’s bad), and Jacob.  Will be interesting to see how all these characters come into play in the next novels.

All in all I’m totally sold on the series, and will definitely be looking forward to Ellie’s next adventure.

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Undertow (Dragonfly #2) by Leigh Talbert Moore

undertowBlurb: Falling in love will pull you under…

-Bill Kyser has a plan to take the sandy farms of his hometown and turn them into a world-class tourist destination–and become a billionaire in the process.
-Alexandra “Lexy” LaSalle has a plan to change her life by becoming a world-famous artist.
-Meg Weaver has a plan to hold onto Bill no matter what she has to do.

Three friends, three dreams. One fatal decision will change all their lives forever.

In Dragonfly, Bill Kyser gave Anna the three journals that held the story behind the powerful developer’s seclusion and the damaged lives of his family members.

Anna hopes to find a way for Julian to know the truth, but as she digs deeper into the tragic events of the past, she realizes silence could be the only option.

Now she’s in an alliance with the man she formerly feared. And if Julian finds out what she knows, she could lose for good the boy she’s starting to love.

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5 stars

This one is probably my favorite out of the series.  It has the most drama, mystery and romance out of all four books. It it has some really great layers with flashbacks.

I think its awesome that Anna is the the outsider looking in to Lexy, Bill and Megan’s life. She provides an unbiased opinion and at the same time, you can see the parallel to her own relationship issues.  I really enjoyed the fact that she is so unsure with herself and she is aware that she needs time to process all her tumultuous feelings instead of jumping into something she will regret later.

Anna shows a lot of growth in this book I think.  She matures even more with her ability to keep a secret and her firm resolve to focus on herself.  She has some slip ups but does not give up.  She has great drive to be good in her chosen career and while she feels intimidated she doesn’t allow that to detour her quest for the truth.

Julian takes his attraction to Anna up a notch.  He is sweet, patient and isn’t afraid to show affection to her.  He starts to open up to her about himself and we dive beneath their surface feelings in this one.  I mean, how could you not love him when he starts revealing his fears and what drives his passion for art?  ::Le sigh::  He is showing Anna how much he cares for her by trusting her with his private thoughts.  I find this incredibly sexy.

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Dragonfly (Dragonfly #1) by Leigh Talbert Moore

dragonflyBlurb: Anna Sanders expected an anonymous (and uneventful) senior year until she crossed paths with rich-and-sexy Jack Kyser and his twin sister Lucy.

Pulling Anna into their extravagant lifestyle on the Gulf Coast, Lucy pushed her outside her comfort zone and Jack showed her feelings she’s never experienced… Until he mysteriously withdrew.

Anna turned to her internship at the city paper and to her old attraction for Julian, a handsome local artist and rising star, for distraction. But both led to her discovery of a decades-old secret closely guarded by the twins’ distant, single father.

It’s a secret that could cost her the boy she loves and permanently change all their lives.

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5 stars

THIS BOOK IS PERMA FREE!!!

I ‘m a huge fan of LTM and it all started with this book.  Really all her books are great though. This series is deep, poignant and intense.  Her writing really catches the teenager wishy washy feelings and ever changing desires.

Anna is a superb character. She has depth, a rare and mature understanding of how the world works combined with an insatiable curiosity, making journalism a great choice for a career. She never really made having a relationship a priority, always preferring to prepare for her future.  And I love that about her, because that’s how I was in HS as well.  I didn’t want an SO holding me back from doing the things I wanted to to.  And it’s most likely why I can relate to her so much.

Jack is….not one of my favorite characters.  He is arrogant and overbearing, putting himself first a lot in this book. Even at the expense of Anna’s feelings.  It made me hard to like him or to understand Anna’s obsession with him. Yes, I say obsession because she was like an addict looking for a hit around him.  No shame, it was almost embarrassing to read.

And then we come to Julian.  Ah Julian, even his name is wonderful.  He was like the epitome of the perfect guy.  Laid back and easy going, except when it came to his passion, making art.  And understanding without coming off as clingy either, a hard balance to maintain. He wanted more than physical, he wanted to know her.   Which says a lot about him as a person. Hell, that’s a great story on its own, but then throw in the twist and you have a wonderfully layered and deep plot.  I enjoyed it more the second time around.

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All the Glory by Elle Casey

Synopsis:
26205316Jason Bradley has everything going for him. He’s Banner High’s first-string varsity wide receiver, headed to another State championship, and the college recruiters are already knocking on his door. His girlfriend is every guy’s dream, there’s a brand new black Camaro with a 6.2L, V-6 engine parked in his garage, and he’s on cruise control.

But when the school’s beloved football coach turns up dead and Jason’s found standing over the body, his cruise control cuts off bringing his charmed life to a screeching halt, and the reality of being an accused murderer of the first degree takes over.

When everyone else walks away and leaves him to hang, one girl can’t. But it’s going to take more than guessing and wishing to get through to him and the truth of what happened, since he seems bound and determined to accept his fate as a criminal, tried as an adult and eligible for lethal injection.

Can one really determined girl get to the bottom of the mystery when no one else seems to care? It would be so much easier to watch him go down, and for many, maybe just a little bit too satisfying. After all, who isn’t guilty of finding pleasure in seeing that perfect someone suddenly exposed for the self-centered prick that he really is?

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My Review:
3 stars — So my husband asked me how I was liking this book, and the conversation went something like this:
“How’s the book?”
“It’s interesting.”
“How so?”
“It’s different…”
“Are you going to say ‘It’s unique’ next?”
He’s a bit of a smartass.  But it really is hard to define this book.  It’s a bit out of my wheelhouse — I don’t read a lot of mystery type books.  I saw it categorized under suspense and thriller, but those don’t feel like they quite fit either.  And while it does have a smidge of romance, I wouldn’t call it that either.

In fact, as anyone who reads my reviews can tell, I tend to stick with books that have at least a smidge of romance in them, and it will play heavily into my enjoyment of a book.  And that would be one area where this book kind of let me down.  It definitely wasn’t the focus of the book, but the romance was there…only it wasn’t all that compelling, and I didn’t really get the feels from it.  Their friendship I definitely felt and really enjoyed, but the romance aspect just didn’t work for me.

Quite honestly, Katy kind of confused me.  There were certain bits about her I just adored — she was hilariously awkward and adorkable, and said/thought some of the funniest things.  But when she was analyzing her feelings about the case, I kind of got lost…like I couldn’t quite understand what she was trying to say in her head, or how exactly she feels.  She would say she was feeling guilty or like a horrible human and sometimes it would come out of nowhere and wouldn’t make sense to me.  Maybe that was more just me?  I don’t know.  But she really did confuse the heck out of me sometimes.  Even with regards to her feelings towards Jason and the way that relationship progressed — one moment she would still be confused about his feelings for her (thinking he just felt for her as a friend), and the next paragraph she seemed to understand (that he loved her) and yet I didn’t see the transition.  Maybe I was just too tired and I missed something.  But that would be a huge part of why the romance didn’t work for me, b/c her change in perspective came out of nowhere.

So really this story was more about the murder and the mystery surrounding it.  And I guess that’s where I was kind of bummed out too — b/c I made some educated guesses practically right from the beginning that turned out to be in the right direction, and I was just surprised that Katy didn’t make those leaps as quickly.  I mean, if you’re looking for a reason, what would be the kind of thing that would drive someone to murder?  And a coach no less?

This book was heavy on the teenagerness too.  Duh, it’s a YA.  But it was sometimes hard to see Katy acting like a brat towards her parents.  She was very volatile in her emotions, and sometimes that was a bit cringeworthy.  I know it’s pretty realistic for a teenager, but maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.  And there was a bit of stereotypicalness about the people in the high school.  Heck, I was even hoping for more out of her and Jason’s conversations about the different social circles, and how not everything was as it seemed.  I never really felt like Katy got what Jason was trying to say there…and it was kind of a poignant moment.

So I was initially at 3.5 stars for this book, but I’m gonna have to go with 3 stars after having written all that out.  That’s not even everything that bugged me.  I really did enjoy the funny aspects of this book, and even some of the heartwrenching ones (Jason and his father in particular really got to me, and I thought that their circumstances were portrayed well).  I guess I just was hoping for more out of Katy, and while her humour was top notch, I couldn’t always empathize with what she would do or think.  I’m probably not making any sense to anyone but me at this point…oh well.

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