Jessica's books

The One and Only Ivan
Revolutionary War on Wednesday
Leprechaun in Late Winter
Ella Enchanted
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Plain Murder
Gone-Away Lake
Circling the Sun
Maggie and Max
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Night Sister
Tuck Everlasting
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bedknob and Broomstick
Mister Monday
Alice Through the Looking Glass
The Birchbark House
The Hobbit
The Witch's Daughter

Jessica's favorite books »

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.

A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.
  A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters.
My Thoughts:
Jennifer is awoken in the middle of the night by a phone call from her oldest daughter, Emma.  Emma is attends school at Princeton but is studying in Spain for the year.  The news Jennifer gets shocks her.  Emma has been arrested in Spain for the murder of a young boy.  As Jennifer tries to sort through everything Emma is telling her and trying to free her daughter, she discovers that she doesn't truly know Emma at all.

This book is obviously loosely based on the Amanda Knox story so I was instantly interested in it.  As a mother, I found myself wondering what I would do in this situation.  I found Jennifer to be very naive when it comes to her children.  She is constantly telling Emma's lawyer and the private investigator and even her own husband that if Emma said it happened this way then that's what happened because Emma wouldn't lie.  Now, as a mom myself, I want to believe my kids are perfect.  However, I know they're not and I know that they don't always tell the truth.  I would certainly want to give my child the benefit of the doubt but Jennifer seemed to be very blinded.  

I didn't care for Jennifer's husband, Mark, either.  Mark is an American lawyer and instead of heading to Spain to be with his wife and daughter, he stays to finish up some cases.  Throughout the book, while Jennifer is in Spain the entire time, dealing with all these issues by herself, Mark constantly tells her that he has to work to pay for all the legal expenses and Jennifer's living expenses in Spain.  I do see where the expenses would be a serious issue and how he might need to stay and work and also be there for their other kids, I thought he appeared cold and not very caring.  

There were a lot of unresolved issues in this book.  First off, is Emma really telling the truth?  There is quite the twist at the end but it just left you hanging.  There are unresolved issues with Jennifer and what she ends up doing with her life now.  What happens between Jennifer and Mark (did Mark ever cheat on her?  Was he currently cheating on her?  Do they make their marriage work?) and what happens with the relationship between Jennifer and Roberto.  There are just a lot of remaining questions that I have and it annoys me (just my personal feelings here) when I don't have all the loose ends tied up.  

I enjoyed this book and it definitely showed me what kind of mother I do NOT want to be.  I really would have liked more answers at the end but the book was easy to read and had some twists the kept you interested.

**I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review**

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Book Review: The Dark Witch (Cousins O'Dwyer #1) by Nora Roberts

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.


County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.

Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horseman, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.

Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…

My Thoughts:

I have really enjoyed novels by Nora Roberts in the past.  I cannot necessarily say the same for this book.  It wasn't horrible but definitely not up to Roberts usual standards.

Iona is the main character in this story.  She is the main character however you really don't ever learn a lot about her.  Iona comes from America and is somewhere in her 20's (I think) but you don't even know how old she is.  You learn a little about her parents, how they divorced when she was young and how they really never cared or paid much attention to her.  You know she loves her Nan and that she loves horses.  That's all you really get.  Maybe that is enough for some but I wanted to know a little more about her.

Iona decides to sell all her possessions, quit her job and move to Ireland.  You might be asking why.  Well, because her Nan told her a story about a witch in Ireland and that Iona was part of that witch.  Nan told her she had cousins in Ireland and that together they needed to defeat some evil being.  That's all it took for Iona to make a drastic, life changing decision.  

Iona pops on over to Ireland, finds her cousin and introduces herself.  The cousin, Branna, accepts everything Iona says and welcomes her with open arms, as does Branna's brother, Connor.  Within two days, Iona has a job and a love interest and getting ready to move in with her cousins and starting to learn magick.  Yeah...realistic much?

Iona annoyed me SO much!  She said literally anything that popped into her mind.  Things that no normal person would ever say.  She just barely meets her cousins and their friends and she is already telling them that she finds Boyle incredibly sexy and attractive and that she is having sex dreams about him.  Did I mention she has only known these people for a week?  She talked way too much and sometimes I just wanted to smack her!  She was not a strong character for me.  

I enjoyed Branna and Meara.  I could relate to both of them a lot more than I could relate to Iona.  Branna is not nearly so optimistic and chipper and Meara says things like they are, no sugar coating anything.  The male characters, Boyle, Connor and Fin, were fine.  Boyle didn't really have a personality at all and seemed to be grumpy a lot.  

My other complaint is that you never find out the back story to any of the other characters.  Branna and Connor are related to Iona.  They live together in Ireland.  There is absolutely no mention of their parents (presumably Iona's aunt and uncle) nor does Iona ever ask about them.  You find out nothing about Boyle, where or who his family is or where he came from.  The only thing you know about Fin is that he is a distant relative to Meara.  It was very unrealistic to me.  If I moved to Ireland on a whim and met up with my cousins, I would at least try to find out a little about my aunt and uncle as well as my cousins.  From what I got out of the book, Iona had never before met these relatives so you would think she might find out a little about them.  

Iona, Branna and Connor have to fight the evil Cabhan, who wants their powers.  Cabhan was defeated years ago by the groups distant relative, Sorcha.  There are some action scenes with Cabhan but nothing overly exciting or suspenseful.  The plan at the end lacked a lot of, well, planning and was a little rushed for me.  

This book was an easy read that didn't take much thinking.  I could easily put it down to do other things and was not distracted by it in any way.  I do like the fact that it was about witches and magic and, since I already have the other two books, can only hope the series gets better.