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 »

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Review: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

My Thoughts:

I'm not really sure how I felt about this book.  It grabbed my attention at first and I really enjoyed the mystery.  It kept my attention all the way through (and I would have finished it sooner if this flu bug hadn't kicked my butt for the last 8 days) but there were some things towards the end that just made me hesitate to give it four or five stars.

The book begins with Tessa in the airport on the way to her childhood home.  Her father, who is in prison, is dying and Tessa feels like she should see him one last time.  Tessa is dreading going back to Fayette because when she was young, her best friend and her put a man on Death Row.  When Tessa and her friend, Callie, were young, Callie's older cousin was murdered.  Tessa and Callie said they saw the man who did it but now Tessa is starting to question what they really saw.  
Once in Fayette, Tessa is staying at Callie's house, much to Callie's dismay.  Callie and Tessa haven't spoken since Tessa left Fayette.  When Tessa goes to visit her father and finds out that he has already died and that her missing sister was there, she tries to find a way to stay longer to try to find her sister and her mother.  

Then one of Tessa and Callie's friends turns up murdered in the exact same way as Callie's cousin and the other girls.  Now Callie and Tessa are wondering if they really helped to put away the Ohio River Monster or if they put an innocent man on Death Row. 

This book kept the mystery going and I honestly had no idea who the Ohio River Monster was or who killed Callie's cousin.  There were so many questions that kept coming up.  The ending was so chaotic for me though and there were way too many things going on.  First you find out who the Ohio River Monster was and that whole part felt very rushed to me at the end.  Then you have Tessa's mom and the whole question of why Lori was murdered.  Last you have a whole new kidnapping plot thrown in for a twist that just seemed off to me.  It just felt like way too many plots thrown into the ending chapters.  

I am happy to say that this book was completely unpredictable though and I did enjoy that.  There were some issues with the police procedures and how they did things but the book was a good mystery with many, many twists and turns.  

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


Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56

Book Beginnings on Fridays is hosted by  Rose City Reader.  Simply share the first sentence or so of the book you are reading and link up in her linky.  
The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice 
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your 
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
 *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. 
*It's that simple.

Hell is a two-hour layover in Atlanta.
~Beginning of The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas.

Yes, I am a liar, but there are a couple of things I feel the need to say about that.
~Page 56 of The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas.                                                                                                                            

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Book Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
There are some things you can’t leave behind…
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

My Thoughts:

This was a difficult book to read for me.  It dealt with some really hard issues like drug addiction, abandonment and abuse.  I think this book is definitely for a more mature reader.

Carey and Jenessa are living in the Hundred Acre Wood (named after Jenessa's favorite books, Winnie-the-Pooh).  They live in a camper with no running water or electricity.  Their mom has been MIA for many weeks and their food is getting low.  Carey does her best to take care of her little sister and is very alarmed when she hears other people coming into the secret world.  It turns out that these strangers know her name and Jenessa's too.  Carey soon finds out that their mother has written to CPS and told them where to find the girls. 

Along with the social worker is Carey's biological father.  Carey only knows what her mother has told her about him and none of it good.  When she finds out that she and Jenessa have to go live with him, she is very wary.  

Once at her father's house, Carey meets her new stepmother and stepsister.  Melissa is so sweet.  You have to love her.  She very easily accepts these two girls as her own and helps them as best as she can to get adjusted to all the many, many changes.  Delaney, Carey's stepsister comes across as a selfish and spoiled brat but you can see where she is coming from, at least a little bit.  It would be very difficult to be an only child for so long only to have all that attention suddenly taken away from you and focused on two unwanted sisters.  Delaney does come around though and by the end I actually liked her.

There were some issues I had with this book.  The first thing is Jenessa.  You see, Carey's mom kidnapped Carey when she was only 5 years old.  Jenessa wasn't born yet and is not the biological daughter of Carey's father.  Carey's mother hid deep in the woods and Jenessa was a "trick baby."  So I am not sure how Carey's father or the social worker would even know about Jenessa except for the fact that the letter said "daughters". The implication was that the social worker and Carey's father immediately started looking for them so wouldn't have had time to make up not only Carey's room but also a room for a child they didn't even know existed.  The room was painted, furnished and had all the stuff that Jenessa would like.  They wouldn't even have any idea how old Jenessa was.  Maybe she was only an infant but they had the room furnished for a five year old.  

There were also some things with the way CPS was portrayed.  A social worker would never stay in a hotel room with children.  The liability of that is crazy and they simply wouldn't put themselves or their department in that situation.  

Jenessa, even though she refused to speak, had no problems trusting these random strangers.  I find that very difficult to believe, especially since she is only 5 and the things she has seen makes me believe that she wouldn't be so trusting so quickly.  

These are only a few things that were bothersome but not enough that it made me want to put the book down.  I actually was very captivated by the story and read it quickly but there are definitely some "off" parts for me.  Again, I definitely think this is for a more mature reader due to the contents.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
 BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser is from If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch.  I can hardly put this book down!

I don't know.  I don't know how it's going to be.  All I know is, if I want to be normal, I'm going to have to work at acting normal.  Talking normal.  

Fake it through until I make it true.

~page 82 of If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Monday, March 14, 2016

Book Review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

My Thoughts:

First, let me say that I did not know there was any controversy around this book when I bought it.  I loved To Kill a Mockingbird and was so excited to read more about Scout and Atticus.  This book did not grab my attention like TKAM did or keep me interested but I thought it was still a good read.

Scout is now in her twenties and has moved away to New York.  She comes back to visit Atticus, who is now living with Alexandra, Scout's aunt.    While at home, Scout is forced to see Atticus in a new light as well as her longtime friend, Henry.  You see, Scout thinks that Atticus has changed since TKAM and it was shocking to her.  She feels as if she no longer knows who Atticus is or ever was. 

 I personally did not feel that Atticus changed his opinions much.  I felt like Scout was naive as a child and put Atticus on a pedestal.  She saw no wrong in her father.  Atticus is a product of the time and place he grew up in.  He didn't believe the south was ready for total equality.  Is it right that he thought that way?  No.  But that is how he had grown up and that is how everyone around him thought and he just simply didn't know to think anything else.  

I think Scout had to understand that Atticus was just a human.  He thought bad things sometimes.  He did bad things sometimes but that majority of the time, he tried to do what was right.  I think she saw him as perfect and when her image was shattered, she didn't know what to do.   

This book took me much longer to read than TKAM because it didn't capture my interest like TKAM.   It wasn't what I was expecting it to be but I was glad to see Atticus taken down a notch and made human.  


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat.


Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
 BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.  I LOVE To Kill a Mockingbird so I am really excited to finally read this one!

The one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trusted had failed her; the only man she had ever known to whom she could point and say with expert knowledge, "He is a gentleman, in his heart he is a gentleman," had betrayed her, publicly, grossly, and shamelessly.
                 ~From page 83 of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee