Category Archives: Realistic

The Devil’s Maverick by Lori Fayre

The Devil's MaverickThe Devil’s Maverick by Lori Fayre
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: The Devil’s Maverick
Author: Lori Fayre
Series: n/a
Pages: 153
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Date: January 28, 2020

Summary:

When Alva Eastman is taken captive by the devilishly handsome pirate Elijah Maverick, she finds that she may be exactly where she wants to be.

Alva Grace Eastman is a young woman desperate to start a new life. But her plans are hindered when her ship is overrun by pirates and she is taken as a prisoner aboard The Diablo. With the notorious Captain Elijah Maverick as her captor, Alva doesn’t have much hope of escape, but that doesn’t stop her from trying. What does change her mind is when the dashing pirate captain saves her life…twice.

Now willing to give him a chance, Alva discovers that there’s more to Elijah Maverick than the reckless, carefree pirate she thinks he is. Not only is he a kind and compassionate person with an extreme distaste for the oppression of innocents, but he is also a man torn. Elijah is plagued with nightmares from his past, consumed with a quest for revenge and desperate for human comfort, which he believes he’s found with Alva. But he’s not the only one keeping secrets.

Alva’s dark past soon catches up with her, exposing her own misdeeds and need to protect the innocent. Together, Alva and Elijah face many forces that seek to tear them apart. From the Royal Navy to an obsessed plantation owner, the pair must fight for their lives, their love and their freedom.

Review:

It’s been awhile since I have read a historical romance based on the pirate trope. And I mean a long while! Probably since the 1970s. Therefore, I was a little concerned I was going to be reading a plot that was outdated with a weak female cowering before the mighty pirate.

Boy, was I wrong.

Both Alva and Elijah were a surprise. Elijah was a lot more caring than I expected and Alva was much stronger than women in pirate novels are normally portrayed. And that aspect of Alva is where I had problems with the book. She was too strong and capable. It was not her personality that bothered me. It was the fact that she was more capable than the men around her. Even though she was inexperienced with most of the weaponry, she was able to successfully defend herself and the men around her. They did not help her so much as she rescued them.

That just did not ring true.

I spent far too much time thinking, “Yeah, right!” when reading this book.

Having said that, I enjoyed the plot line. The writing was solid with a likable heroine. This is a debut novel and I expect the next book will be even better. A sequel has not been mentioned, but one character needs his own book and the author did leave the ending open enough to allow for his story.

I gave this book three stars and I imagine subsequent books will be even better.

Good luck to a new author who has made a solid beginning on their career.

This book was sent to me by the author in return for an honest review.

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A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell, #4) by Deanna Raybourn

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: A Dangerous Collaboration
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell, #4
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: March 12, 2019

Summary:

Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker’s brother calls in a favor. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly’s house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée–much to Stoker’s chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed. Every invited guest has a connection to Romilly’s wife, Rosamund, who disappeared on her wedding day three years ago, and a dramatic dinner proves she is very much on her husband’s mind.

As spectral figures, ghostly music, and mysterious threats begin to plague the partygoers, Veronica enlists Stoker’s help to discover the host’s true motivations. And as they investigate, it becomes clear that there are numerous mysteries surrounding the Romilly estate, and every person present has a motive to kill Rosamund…

Review:

The first time I read this book I didn’t particularly like it. There was too much stress between Veronica and Stoker. It wasn’t the normal disagreements and shouting matches, it was indifference. Even though I thought Stoker’s attitude was false, I wasn’t sure. And Veronica is never comfortable showing her softer feelings.

With the second reading, however, I was better able to see that even though it looked like they were drifting apart, they were really struggling to make a connection. I could breathe a sigh of relief.

Stoker’s eldest brother Tiberius is integral to the plot. Not only does he drag Veronica and Stoker into solving a murder, there are subplots as well. They grew up together as brothers, but Tiberius had always tormented Stoker. And Stoker being Stoker certainly returned the favor. Their relationship was explored and hopefully improved in this book. In addition, Tiberius strikes me as a man-whore and he definitely makes a play for Veronica. I am not sure how much is because he desires her or because he is getting back at Stoker. Either way, he doesn’t come across as very likable.

The murder case itself is three years old. The way they talk about it, it seems more like decades old. Anyway, I can’t really say Stoker and Veronica solve the case. It is more the murderer gives themselves away because they are afraid of being discovered. It all takes place on a island off England which is inhabited by mermaids, piskies, and those with the sight. There is a garden of poisons where even breathing the air is dangerous. All in all, not a comfortable place to live . . . or die.

My immediate reaction after finishing the book the first time was when is the next one due out? After the second reading, my reaction is “I want it now!” It’s definitely worth four stars and if I hadn’t spent most of the book worrying about Stoker’s and Veronica’s relationship, I would probably have given it five stars.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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At the Highlander’s Mercy (MacLerie Clan, #6) by Terri Brisbin

At the Highlander's Mercy (The MacLerie Clan, #6)At the Highlander’s Mercy by Terri Brisbin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

 

 

Summary:

Captive of the clan

To regain control of his fractured clan Robert Matheson must take Lilidh MacLerie hostage as a bargaining tool. But Lilidh is no ordinary captive. She’s the woman he once loved – and rejected!

Rob’s touch is etched permanently into her memory and, unaware that he was forced to repudiate their love, Lilidh has never forgotten the man who broke her heart all those years ago. Now, looking into the eyes of her captor, she no longer recognizes this fearsome leader. She should be afraid – there’s no telling what he will do. But something about him excites and unnerves her in equal measure….

Review:

I’m always thrilled to find a new Highlander book, so I had high hopes for this one. I thought the plot was an interesting one with a twist I had not seen before. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the two main characters themselves.

My favorite couples in Highlander romances consist of a strong, alpha man and a strong, independent woman. I realize the entire Highland cannot consist of lairds, but these are romances, so I get to choose what I love.

Rob is the bastard son of the former laird and and although he has been selected as laird, he is not accepted by his entire clan. In particular, his cousin Simon challenges him because he believes he should have been chosen as laird. Rob does little to nothing to control Simon and the clan is in turmoil because of this.

The Highland lairds I love would have smacked Simon down at the very onset of his troublemaking. They certainly wouldn’t have allowed him to continue to challenge their decisions.

Lilidh (pronounced Lily – I had to look it up) has become a widow after only a few months of marriage. She is returning home to her family so that they can find her a new husband. And that’s what I didn’t like about her. She rarely seemed to stand up for herself. Where are the feisty heroines of my favorite Highlander romances? She doesn’t have any opinion regarding who she is to marry and where she is to live. She leaves all the decisions up to her father and clan.

This book is a spinoff of Brisbin’s MacLerie series. Lilidh’s parents are the couple from the first title in the series: Taming the Highlander and make regular appearances in this book. If you are a fan of The MacLerie’s, you really do need to read this book. It’s always fun to visit couples from books you love and find out how they turn out.

Maybe I would have enjoyed this one more if I had read the previous books. I did feel like I was missing the backstory on occasion. Then again, I really think Rob’s lack of backbone would have disappointed me no matter what.

Ratings:

Overall: 3
Sensuality level: 3

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Updated March 6, 2018:  I read this book five years ago, reviewed it, and never posted the review.  WTH??

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The Escape Diaries (Life and Love on the Lam, #1) by Juliet Rosetti

The Escape Diaries (Life and Love on the Lam, #1)The Escape Diaries by Juliet Rosetti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Escape Diaries
Author: Juliet Rosetti
Series: Life and Love on the Lam, #1
Pages: 294
Publisher: Loveswept
Date: December 10, 2012
Summary:

Wrongly convicted of killing her philandering husband, Mazie Maguire is three years into her life sentence when fate intervenes—in the form of a tornado. Just like that, she’s on the other side of the fence, running through swamps and cornfields, big box stores and suburban subdivisions. Hoping to find out who really murdered her husband, Mazie must stay a few steps ahead of both the law and her mother-in-law, who would like nothing better than to personally administer Mazie the death penalty via lethal snickerdoodle. With the Feds in hot pursuit and the national media hyping her story, Mazie stumbles upon a vast political conspiracy and a man who might just be worth a conjugal visit—if she survives.

Review:
When I first read this book, I gave it a five star rating . . . but I never actually wrote a review. Well, it is time for that review and it most definitely still earns its five stars.

Although The Escape Diaries is classified as a romance, the romance is simply a side note. This book is a straight up comedy. I decided to re-read it because I have read several dark, intense novels lately. I needed a change of pace and it really delivered.

Mazie is in prison for murdering her husband who really needed to be done away with. She’s innocent of course, but no one believes her, especially her psychotic mother-in-law. Anyway, she escapes, with the help of a tornado, which starts the spiral of one improbable event after another.

There is a love interest, but that is not the most interesting part of the plot. It is the situations Mazie gets herself into and out of that make the book so much fun.

I did not realize there were sequels and I will definitely read them. I have to find out what other crazy things happen to Mazie. And really, things seem to happen to her. It’s not really her fault.

If you are a fan of Stephanie Plum or Izzy Spellman, you will love Mazie Maguire. Give her a try.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3) by Deanna Rabourn

A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3)A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Treacherous Curse
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell, #3
Pages: 352
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 16, 2018

Summary:

Members of an Egyptian expedition fall victim to an ancient mummy’s curse in a thrilling Veronica Speedwell novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries.

London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .

Review:

I have yet to read a Deanna Raybourn book that I did not like. I might not like particular plot points, but I liked, okay loved, all the books. I have to say though, the Veronica Speedwell books are my favorite.

Veronica is a woman after my own heart. I just wished I had her strength of character. She does as she believes is right, regardless of what others might think. I don’t know how realistic this is for the Regency time period or any time period, but I love her anyway.

She doesn’t have much use for most men and even Stoker is subject to her managing ways. Most of all, she is funny. A lot of the humor is found within her thoughts rather than what she actually says or does, but it is quoteworthy nonetheless.

He proceeded to lecture me for the next quarter of an hour, about what I cannot say, for I turned my attention to the contents of the packing crate. I had long since discovered upon my travels that men are largely the same no matter where one encounters them. And if one is prepared to let them discourse on their pet topics of conversation, one can generally get on with things quite handily without any interference.

As for managing Stoker, she knows him, and herself, well.

I pressed my lips together, holding back the question that rose to them. Whatever had caused him to react so strongly, he had no wish to share it and I had no wish to pry.

(I have pledged myself to honesty in these pages, gentle reader, so I will admit that in point of fact I had a rather ferocious wish to pry, but I had learnt through painful experience that Stoker responded far better to the oblique approach than to more direct methods . . .)

And just a general touch of humor:

I turned to the post, sorting the various envelopes into pigeonholes. BILLS TO PAY. BILLS TO PRETEND I HAVE NOT RECEIVED. LETTERS TO ANSWER. LETTERS TO IGNORE. LETTERS FROM TEDIOUS PEOPLE.

Been there, done that. Haven’t you?

I just realized that I haven’t said a word about the plot. The entire thing turns around a archaeological find in Egypt. There is a missing team member, a missing (or was it stolen) diadem belonging to an Egyptian princess. And to just stir things up, a woman from Stoker’s past. Just how does Stoker feel about her after all these years?

If I have any criticism of this book, it is the use of words that I have never heard before. Just as an example: eclose, froideur, exsolutus, and vulneraverunt. The silver lining is that my vocabulary is definitely increasing. Thank goodness for my Kindle. It was able to define most of these for me.

Having said all that, my initial thought when I reached the last chapter was “when is the next book coming out?” As I said earlier, I love the Veronica Speedwell books and I cannot wait to find out what happens next.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Hot Secrets (Tall, Dark, and Deadly, #1) by Lisa Renee Jones

Hot Secrets (Tall, Dark & Deadly #1)Hot Secrets by Lisa Renee Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Hot Secrets
Author: Lisa Renee Jones
Series: Tall, Dark, & Deadly; #1
Pages: 197
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Date: January 23, 2012

Summary:

The Walker Brothers…

Tall, dark, and deadly, these three brothers run Walker security. Each brother is unique in his methods and skills, but all share key similarities. They are passionate about those they love, relentless when fighting for a cause they believe in, and all believe that no case is too hard, no danger too dark. Dedication is what they deliver, results are their reward.

Book 1 HOT SECRETS:

Royce Walker, a former FBI Agent, who’s opened a private security firm with his brothers, has always had the hots for the prim, proper Assistant District Attorney, but considered her hand’s off because of a family connection. However, when danger threatens Lauren, he isn’t willing to stand by and watch her get hurt. Now the passion for survival is only rivaled by the passion burning between them. And that passion, might just be the death of them both.

Review:

I really hoped to like this book. The premise, hot, sexy bodyguard and prosecuting attorney being threatened, is a good one. And I did . . . like it. And that’s the best I can say about the book. I can’t even say what my problem was with it. The writing is decent, and as I said, the plot is interesting.

I just couldn’t make myself care about the characters. I did want to know who the bad guy was and the book kept me guessing.

I actually found myself more interested in the two brothers. I would like to know their stories, but not enough to spend any time reading the other books.

This title has 3.5 stars on Goodreads and is free on Kindle Unlimited right now. If it sounds like something you might like, give it a try. I know Lisa Renee Jones is a very popular author. It just didn’t do it for me.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Twelfth Night (Lady Julia Grey, #5.6) by Deanna Raybourn

Twelfth Night (Lady Julia Grey, #5.6)Twelfth Night by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Twelfth Night
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Lady Julia Grey
Pages: 51
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date: June 1, 2014

Summary:

To mark the passing of another decade, the esteemed (and eccentric) March family have assembled at Bellmont Abbey to perform the Twelfth Night Revels for their sleepy English village. But before Lady Julia and her handsome sleuthing husband, Nicolas Brisbane, can take to the stage, a ruckus in the stable yard demands their attention. An abandoned infant is found nestled in the steel helm of St. George. What’s more, their only lead is the local legend of a haunted cottage and its ghastly inhabitant—who seems to have returned.

Once again, Lady Julia and Nicholas take up the challenge to investigate, and when the source of the mystery is revealed, they’ll be faced with an impossible choice—one that will alter the course of their lives…forever.

Review:

I should have reviewed this book when it was first released. I certainly was anxious to read it at the time. Unfortunately, I procrastinated and then forgot to write the review. The silver lining to that is that it forced me to re-read the book in order to finally review it. I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

Twelfth Night is a short story, not a novella, in the Lady Julia Grey universe. If you are not familiar with these books, you have a treat in store for you. You don’t want to start with this one because it is full of spoilers from the previous novels.

I am glad I re-read it at this time because it is definitely a Christmas holiday book, although it does not take place exactly at Christmas. It is a family book as is appropriate for the holidays with family members we love and those we only tolerate, as well as one or two that we would rather avoid altogether.

The best thing about re-reading this book now is that I am once again excited about the Lady Julia Grey books. I see a re-read of the entire series in my near future. If you are new to the series, the author appears to have finished writing them, so you will be able to read them as quickly as you can without having to wait for the next book to be published. I assure you it was hard to wait. They are so good.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Promise Not to Tell (Cutler, Sutter, & Salinas, #2) by Jayne Ann Krentz

Promise Not to TellPromise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Promise Not to Tell
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Cutler, Sutter, & Salinas, #2
Pages: 304
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 2, 2018

Summary:

A painter of fiery, nightmarish visions throws herself into the sea—but she leaves her secrets behind . . .

Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound, killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture: a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide—and her own past.

Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire… and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.

Review:

This is the second book in what will be a trilogy about three brothers who survived an early childhood in a cult. The first, When All the Girls Have gone, came out in 2016 and was wonderful. Of course, all of Jayne Ann Krentz’ books are wonderful.

In my opinion, these two books are a little darker than her earlier works. The focus is on the suspense rather than the romance. Make no mistake, the romance is there. It is just not the focus. As with all of her books, there is a strong, alpha male and a strong female that takes no guff from him. And, in my opinion, that’s where the humor comes into this book.

There is one scene where Cabot is upset with his family. He accuses Virginia of taking their side. She tells him:

“I’m not taking sides. I’m offering advice.”

“I don’t need advice.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m not going to give you some. Don’t worry, it’s free.”

In an earlier scene, Virginia is “having words” with her grandmother and Cabot proves his intelligence.

He kept his mouth shut. A smart man did not step between two quarreling lionesses.

It is these moments of lightness that I consider a trademark of a JAK book right along with her alpha males and strong females.

Although this is the second book in a trilogy, it could be read without the first. I don’t recommend it, but you could. -grin- The mystery in this book is resolved, but there is an overarching plot which is not. It all goes back to the cult.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Misconduct (Birmingham Rebels, #4) by Samantha Kane

Misconduct (Birmingham Rebels, #4)Misconduct by Samantha Kane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Misconduct
Author: Samantha Kane
Series: Birmingham Rebels, #4
Pages: 288
Publisher: Loveswept
Date: July 25, 2017

Summary:

Rookie running back Tom Kelly loves the perks of football stardom. Men, women—there’s no shortage of companionship for a pro athlete who’s hot, young, and willing, and Tom is definitely willing. But deep down he wants a committed three-way relationship, especially if the female in the middle is Carmina de la Cruz. The undeniably sexy Army veteran may not say much, but her body speaks loud and clear.

After a traumatic tour in Afghanistan, Carmina is struggling to regain her speech and rebuild her life. More than anything, she wants to feel like a woman again. Tom may be a wholesome All-American, but he knows just how she needs to be touched—and he’s not the only Rebel who arouses her interest. With his scorching intensity, Tom’s best friend leaves her wondering if two players might be better than one.

Danny Smith is no stranger to his team’s kinky reputation. He gave in to temptation once, but he’s not going down that road again. Sure, Carmina’s curves promise pleasure, but her eyes guarantee it comes with baggage—and Danny has enough of his own. Still, giving up control can feel so good. And when it comes to everything Danny craves, Carmina and Tom make the perfect team.

Review:

Although I am a big Samantha Kane fan (Brothers in Arms is the GREATEST!), I never expected to like the Birmingham Rebels series. I don’t like team sports, and I especially don’t like football, but these books are wonderful. And that says something . . . if I enjoy books that take place in a setting that I have no interest in, they must be good.

This one, which is book four, is no exception. Samantha Kane’s books have a continuing storyline, but there are no cliffhangers. It’s just that situations from previous books come up again and the team members and their mates show up as well. This entire series is like a story of an extended family. Obviously, it would be best to read them in order.

Anyway, Tom is the All-American-Boy who everybody loves. Carmina is recovering from injuries she received as a soldier in Afghanistan and is very self-conscious about the disability she is striving to overcome. Danny is angry. That is the best way to describe him. He has good reasons, but he has let his anger control everything in his life.

And that’s why this is a four star and not a five star book. Tom is great, but Carmina and Danny are still too focused on the past. Carmina considers herself broken and in need of fixing. Those are her words. She keeps poking herself in the head when she talks about her problems. Danny needs to get over the past. Yes, something terrible happened, but get over it and move on.

Of course, most of this works out at the end, and a wonderful thing about Samantha Kane’s books is that everything isn’t tied up in a beautiful bow. Life is not perfect. However, her characters are willing to work to make things as good as they can be.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Pretenders (Pretenders, #1) by Lisi Harrison

Title: Pretenders
Author: Lisi Harrison
Series: Pretenders, #1
Pages: 293
Publisher: Poppy
Date: October 1, 2013

 

Summary:

It takes place at a high school in New Jersey. Summer is over. Sophomore year begins tomorrow. Outfits are being planned. Lunch buddies are being secured. Texts are flying. All seems normal when…ping! Everyone in the sophomore class gets an email.

SUBJECT: The Phoenix Five: License To Spill.

Attached is a mega document.

A letter from a mysterious student starts the book. It explains that at the end of each year the school yearbook- The Phoenix- names the five most outstanding freshman. She (or he) always suspected that last years’ five (3 girls, 2 boys) were phonies. She (or he) always thought they tried too hard to be popular. But she (or he) never had the proof. Until now. She (or he) stole the secret diaries they were asked to keep by their English teacher. She (or he) has compiled them into a book.

This is that book.

Review:

I don’t even know where to start. There are so many things I didn’t like about this book that it’s hard to pick one.

Let me say first: the book is YA. I can see the appeal to teenage girls and if I was still a high school librarian, I would probably add it to the collection. However, personally, I had a hard time finishing it.

Now, why don’t I like it.

It’s written in first person which I generally don’t like.
Not only is it first person, it is first person from multiple viewpoints. Five to be exact. I never was able to keep everyone straight.
I was waffling between giving it a two or three-stars until I got to the end. It has a cliffhanger ending which I ALWAYS hate. Two-stars it is.

Anyway, as an adult reading this book, I can appreciate the idea that people hide things from others. Whether it is to impress or to stay unnoticed, people rarely if ever tell the truth about themselves. In this book, which is supposed to be a compilation of five students’ private journals, all those truths come out.

And that is the one thing I like about it. I like the idea that teenage readers (and yes, I am talking primarily about the girls) will see that everyone has something to hide. No one’s life is perfect no matter how it looks on the outside.

So, yes, I would put this in a school library, but I am not in the least tempted to read the sequel even though there was a cliffhanger ending.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Blogger Shame

I was supposed to have reviewed this book when it was released and did not.  I am trying to clear up my back log of reviews owed.

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