2017 Book #95 – Deja Who by MaryJanice Davidson

51bXz8Oea-L._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Deja Who
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Date finished: 11/24/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Pages in book: 285
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Insighters series
Where I got the book from: I bought this book, I’m a huge fan of this author

Blurb from the cover:

You couldn’t arrest for murder someone who had killed in his last life. You couldn’t bring a civil suit against such people, either. They could only be legally penalized for what they did this time around—and what a dark circus the legal system had been before that legislation passed! (It was still a dark circus, but perhaps not as dark.)  But you could spot them, and watch them. You could set traps for them.
 
Leah Nazir is an Insighter. Reincarnation is her business. But while her clients’ pasts are a mess, Leah’s is nothing short of tragedy. She’s been murdered. A lot. If left to that bitch, destiny, it’ll happen again. Leah wants to know who’s been following her through time, and who’s been stalking her in the present…

P.I. Archer Drake has been hired by Leah’s mother to keep an eye on her. But the more time he spends watching, the more he finds himself infatuated. Before long, he even finds himself agreeing to help find the person who wants her dead. Over and over again.

Now going full-on “rewind,” Leah hopes it can stave off the inevitable. After all, she’s grown fond of this life—and even fonder of nerdy Archer. But changing her pattern means finding out who her killer is today. And as Leah fears, that could be anyone she has come to know and trust. Anyone.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was approved to read the second book in this series on NetGalley and I had (coincidentally since I really enjoy this author’s previous books) purchased the first book when it was released so I decided to read this so I’d know what was going on going into the second book. And I’m sure glad I did because the plot line in this book is so creative and different that I think I might have had a little more trouble just jumping into the second book, though I’m sure there is enough background info in the second book to get readers up to speed. This book is about Leah Nazir, an Insighter who is trying not to get murdered during this lifetime. An Insighter is a certified person, almost like a therapist but in this world they can also help the person discover who they were in past lives (using a specific medication) and hopefully help them figure out how to break the cycle of their wrongdoings in this lifetime. I thought this was a really creative and interesting plot.

Overall I liked this book. As I’ve said I thought it was a creative and interesting plot. The characters tended to babble a little though, which I didn’t love all the time. And the way their conversations jump around can sometimes be confusing and hard to keep up with. For the most part I stayed engaged throughout the whole story, although in a couple points it did get a little dry. One of the parts that I found particularly interesting was that the author used a lot of real historical references for people’s past lives, including Westley Allan Dodd and Gilles de Rais. I always like when a book can tie in a historical aspect. This was a pretty good book, though dark at times. I would recommend it though, it was very interesting.

The bottom line: I really liked this book, the story line was creative and interesting. I always love seeing an author’s out of the box idea about life and how they can create a whole new reality. There were a few drawbacks but overall it was in interesting read and I would recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #73 – 13 Dates by Matt Dunn

411mqPY6QIL._SY346_Title: 13 Dates
Author: Matt Dunn
Date finished: 8/31/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Pages in book: 334
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When Noah Wilson first encounters the quirky, opinionated and very beautiful Angel Fallon, his world is turned upside down. It’s clear she’s not his normal type, but Noah can’t stop thinking about her—which doesn’t bode well for the blind date he’s already late for.

Convinced by his friend (and self-professed dating expert) Marlon that thirteen dates is all you need to fall in love, Noah decides to give it a try with Angel. They should be incompatible: she’s impulsive and he’s a planner; he wants to settle down and she doesn’t ‘do’ relationships—or anything, for that matter—the way Noah is used to. But there’s something about Angel, and Noah can’t shake the idea that all they need is twelve more dates.

Despite some near-disasters involving rock climbing, saddle sores and jellied eels, it seems his plan may actually work. But even if they do reach the magic number, can that really mean they’ll just fall into their happily-ever-after?

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Noah Wilson and Angel Fallon, a couple who meet at a Starbucks. Noah falls in love with Angel almost immediately, in a rush of feelings he never expected. Angel though is a bit more hesitant, convinced that relationships “aren’t her thing.” After spending a good amount of time just tracking her down, Noah wears down her defenses until she agrees to go out on a date with him. Since Angel is all about “new experiences” though, Noah has to spend some time coming up with various original date ideas, including horseback riding, rock wall climbing, and even eating jellied eels. And as Noah finds himself falling even harder in love with Angel, can he convince her to do the same?

Overall this book was ok but wasn’t my favorite. I found Angel’s character annoying and frustrating, and Noah’s character was overly nice and naive. I understand Angel’s hesitancy towards relationships, given her situation, but the whole Margate trip sent me over the edge because she was so outstandingly rude. Other than that it was an ok and cute story. It reminded me a little oat first of The Rosie Project, mostly because of how incredibly different Angel and Noah were personality wise.

The bottom line: I liked this book ok, it was interesting and was a cute/sweet story. Nothing thrilled me about it but it was pretty good.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book # 117 – Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

41l0bsfq7yl-_sx309_bo1204203200_Title: Vinegar Girl
Author: Anne Tyler
Date finished: 12/14/16
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Hogarth
Publication Date: June 1, 2016
Pages in book: 240
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.
Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.
When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Kate Battista, a 29 year old woman who has gotten herself into something of a rut. After getting expelled from college, she moves back home with her father and her much younger sister Bunny. Kate ends up getting a job at a local preschool as an assistant and between that, taking care of her father’s household, and basically parenting Bunny, all of a sudden she realizes she’s 29 and has been stuck in the same routine for years. Really what wakes her up is a ridiculous idea that her father comes up with – for Kate to marry his research assistant, Pyotr, to keep him in the country. Pyotr’s visa is about to expire and Kate’ father is desperate to find a way to keep him so they can finish an important research project. At first Kate rejects this idea, thinking she deserves better, but as she spends more time considering Pyotr’s offer and the freedom it would afford her, Kate realizes this might be just the change she needs in her life.
Overall I liked this book. It was interesting how the book turned out, it didn’t end how I expected but I really enjoyed the ending. This book is a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and since I haven’t read that one previously, I’d really love to read it now especially to see how parallel the story lines are. I did find Kate to be a hard character to connect with, I didn’t really understand why she put up with a lot of the things that she puts up with in the book but everything seems to work out ok in the end for her. Her cast of supporting characters (her father, Bunny, her aunt, etc) all seemed very self-absorbed and were only interested in what Kate was able to provide for them. It made for an interesting story though and I can feel Shakespeare’s influence in it even if I haven’t read this exact comedy of his before. This was an interesting book and was a fairly quick read, I would recommend it!

The bottom line: This was an interesting read, it was definitely different than my normal book choice. I think it would have been better if I had already read The Taming of the Shrew and could connect the stories. It was still a good read though, I would recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #37 – I Know What I’m Doing — and Other Lies I Tell Myself by Jen Kirkman

51kB0uOLqhL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Title: I Know What I’m Doing — And Other Lies I Tell Myself
Author: Jen Kirkman
Date finished: 4/22/16
Genre: Non-fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Pages in book: 240
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

New York Times bestselling author and stand-up comedian Jen Kirkman delivers a hilarious, candid memoir about marriage, divorce, sex, turning forty, and still not quite having life figured out.
Jen Kirkman wants to be the voice in your head that says, Hey, you’re okay. Even if you sometimes think you aren’t! And especially if other people try to tell you you’re not.
In I Know What I’m Doing—and Other Lies I Tell Myself, Jen offers up all the gory details of a life permanently in progress. She reassures you that it’s okay to not have life completely figured out, even when you reach middle age (and find your first gray pubic hair!). She talks about making unusual or unpopular life decisions (such as cultivating a “friend with benefits” or not going home for the holidays) because you don’t necessarily want for yourself what everyone else seems to think you should. It’s about renting when everyone says you should own, dating around when everyone thinks you should settle down, and traveling alone when everyone pities you for going to Paris without a man.
From marriage to divorce and sex to mental health, I Know What I’m Doing—and Other Lies I Tell Myself is about embracing the fact that life is a bit of a sh*t show and it’s definitely more than okay to stay true to yourself.

My rating: 2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also, this book will count towards my “PopSugar 2016 Checklist” reading challenge, marking off the “a book written by a comedian” since this book was in fact written by a stand-up comedian. This book is about Jen Kirkman’s experience with marriage, divorce, and what comes after. It is an honest look at what she thinks of the institution of marriage and about her life. Since she is a comedian, as you can expect there is a slightly sarcastic and humorous voice as our narrator. Many times I found myself laughing out loud while reading this book.
So I would like to preface the rest of what I’m going to write by saying that I don’t think I am the target audience for this book. At all. This book talks a lot about how awful marriage is and while that wasn’t the only point that this book was trying to make or the only thing discussed, it really turned me off to some large parts of the book. While I get that marriage isn’t for everyone, the author talked a lot about how when she was contemplating divorce she got tired of married people telling her that marriage is hard and that she should try to work harder at it. Obviously I don’t know her exact situation and no one outside of your marriage can really decide for you whether its something that is right for you, her married friends were telling the truth. Marriage is hard. It isn’t all rainbows and being madly in love all day every day for your whole life. Marriage is a lot of work. I mean think about it, you have to spend 50 years of your life attached to one person. During that 50 years countless other people are going to come in and out of your life, changing who you are as a person. Even ignoring that, people usually change over time, so during 50 years you could change who you are as a person entirely. Sometimes you change too much and your marriage doesn’t work out but otherwise you have to work at it. You have to work to find time for each other and continue to make each other feel special and just a whole lot of other crap that takes a lot of work emotionally. So suffice it to say I didn’t agree with a lot of the things the author discussed in the book. And trust me, I am not dependent on my husband in any way shape or form, I am very independent. And I am not with him because “society” thinks I need to be married or because I want someone to cook for. I am with my husband because we have fun together (some times) and because I like what he brings to our relationship. He interests me as a person, and he has since the moment I met him.
Wow that was quite the rant. Anyways, the author also discusses that marriage is awful and married people can’t understand why she doesn’t want to get married and that people with kids only care about their kids. So if hearing about any one of those things appeals to you then I would read this book. Other than that you might find it a tad frustrating, but still funny as well.

The bottom line: I just couldn’t really get into this book. It was definitely funny, there were some parts that made me laugh out loud. But I’m a married woman who is looking to have children so I think I just wasn’t in the target audience for this book that makes fun of married woman who have/want to have children for 200 pages. Was a funny read but I would probably only recommend it to people who are divorced or who have no interest in getting married or who have no interest in having children.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2014 – Book #94

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As part of my October spooky series reading challenge, the ninty-fourth book I read in 2014 was Undead and Uneasy by MaryJanice Davidson. This is the sixth book in her Undead series about vampire queen Betsy Taylor. This is the series I will be focusing on this month for my Spooky Series reading challenge for the month of October. I finished this book on 10/22/14. I rated this book 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This book picks up about 3 months after where the fifth book left off. Betsy’s wedding is fast approaching and about four weeks before the wedding everyone disappears. And then Betsy’s father and stepmother die in an awful car crash and she is left to face their funeral for the most part on her own.

Betsy’s best friend Jessica is dying of cancer, and Jessica’s boyfriend Nick (who Betsy had previously had a little blood-crazy episode with when she first turned into a vampire but then they erased his memory of the incident, or so they thought) confronts Betsy and tells her to turn Jessica into a vampire and save her or he’d unload a bunch of bullet’s into Betsy’s head. Once Betsy gets over the shock that Nick has remembered what happened, she lets Nick know that she’s already tried that route and Jessica turned her down.

Sinclair has been missing for two weeks and Betsy thinks that he’s just in a snit because he doesn’t want to go through with the wedding ceremony. Sinclair seems to think that they’re already married since that’s what the Book of the Dead says, but Betsy wants the ceremony she’s been planning since she was a little girl. Kind of hard to do when the groom just up and disappears though. Once Tina finds out that Sinclair is missing, Betsy realizes that maybe she should be a little worried. As much as Sinclair doesn’t want to go through with the ceremony, its really not like him to just disappear for a couple weeks. He’d fight about the ceremony, not passively just not show up. Turns out Betsy probably should’ve been worried a little sooner.

I’ll say pretty much the same thing I said for the first book here, overall obviously I love this book or else I wouldn’t be re-reading the whole series. I can’t say enough good things about this book and this series. I think this book might be one of my favorite in the series so far. I love how Betsy overcomes the evil in the end of the book and what she does right after that, it was unexpected and a bit thrilling. Stay tuned for more adventures though as I try to read through the rest of the series this month. Going to take a Herculean effort since there are eight more books to go (7 and a collection of novellas). Great series though and I love reading it so it’s fun! I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who’s looking for a good laugh.

2014 – Book #74

undead and unsure

The seventy-fourth book I read in 2014 was Undead and Unsure by MaryJanice Davidson. This is the twelfth book in her Undead series. I have previously read the other 11 books in the series. I finished this book on 8/20/14. I rated this book 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5. This series is about Betsy Taylor, who dies at the young age of 30 and wakes up in the morgue to discover she is a vampire. Turns out she’s not only a vampire but queen of all the vampires. And for someone who in her previous life was employed as an office assistant, the new job title of queen seems pretty daunting. 

So in the last book we left off just after Betsy killed Lena Olin, the devil, and also Laura’s (Betsy’s step-sister’s) mom as Laura watches on. Which means Laura is now stuck with the job of ruling over Hell, whether she wants it or not. Which means Laura is royally pissed. Betsy wants to try and make nice with Laura, even though she’s not sorry she killed the devil. Ancient Betsy (Betsy from the future) told present-day Betsy that she never killed the devil in her past, which means that there might be hope that Sinclair (hubby) doesn’t die in the future. 

Meanwhile, something weird is going on with Betsy’s roommate Jessica. She’s pregnant. But no one seems to know when she’s due. Or even when she got pregnant. And since she’s just beyond huge, looks like she’s about to pop any day huge, this is more than a little odd. What’s even more odd is that no one seems to be worried about this whole situation. Not even Jess. The only one who seems to be worried is Dr. Taylor (Betsy’s mom). 

Overall this was a great book, laugh out loud funny as all the other books in this series are. I loved that this book has snippets from Sinclair’s point of view. And the end of the book was very interesting, there were some very odd revelations about Laura and her relationship with Betsy. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series, which comes out October 7th!!! I’m considering having an Undead series marathon in October, since I love Halloween and this new book will be the 13th in the series it seems fitting. So stay tuned!

Link to posts on other books in the Undead series: https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/category/book-reviews/book-series-book-reviews/undead-series-betsy-taylor/

Link to author website: http://www.maryjanicedavidson.net/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Undead-Unsure-MaryJanice-Davidson/dp/0425263436/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1408568257&sr=8-1

2014 – Book #73

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The seventy-third book I read in 2014 was Undead and Unstable by MaryJanice Davidson. This is the eleventh book in her Undead series. I have previously read the other 10 books in the series, and this book is a re-read for me. Especially with this series I like to read the previously most recent book when a new book in the series comes out. I finished this book on 8/16/14. I rated this book 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This series is about Betsy Taylor, who dies at the young age of 30 and wakes up in the morgue as a vampire. Turns out she’s not only a vampire but queen of all the vampires. And for someone who in her previous life was employed as an office assistant, the new job title of queen seems pretty daunting. 

In the last book (Undead and Undermined) Betsy changed the past and created an alternate timeline. So Future Betsy (lovingly referred to in the book as Ancient Me) comes back from the future to see if she can get more things to change so that she doesn’t have such a crappy future. Also Betsy (the current one not the Future one, though it turns out the future one did have a hand in it) finds Marc upstairs in the attic dissecting a cat. Which wouldn’t be so weird except for the fact that Marc committed suicide and died a week beforehand. 

Honestly this is probably one of my favorite series. I always end up laughing out loud, Betsy is witty and sarcastic and just hilarious. The series is interesting and each book I find riveting in its own way. I might end up going back to book 1 and rereading the whole thing through, the books are just great no matter how many times I re-read them. Though at this point the series is starting to get a bit confusing with all the back and forth’s and goings-on. I still love it though, just love it! Definitely a great series, I would highly recommend to all readers!

Link to author website: http://www.maryjanicedavidson.net/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Undead-Unstable-Queen-Betsy/dp/0515151351/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408206659&sr=8-1&keywords=undead+and+unstable

2014 – Book #69

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The sixty-ninth book I read in 2014 was A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. I finished this book on 8/11/14. I rated this book (really a play) 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5. This was actually a re-read for me since I read this in high school for my AP English class. This play tells the story of really 4 groups of people: 1) Theseus, Duke of Athens, and his bride to be Hippolyta 2) 4 young Athenians Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena 3) 6 Athenian workers who are rehearsing a play to perform at the Duke’s wedding and 4) Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the Fairies. 

Lysander and Hermia are in love but Hermia’s father wants her to marry Demetrius, so Hermia and Lysander prepare to run away from Athens where they can be together. Helena is in love with Demetrius even though he’s in love with Hermia and so, in trying to endear himself to her, Helena tells Demetrius of Hermia and Lysanders’ plans. Demetrius follows the couple into the woods to try and stop them and Helena follows Demetrius. 

King Oberon wants to play a trick on his wife and so finds a flower that will make you fall in love with the next person you see when it is used. Thinking to help Helena, Oberon tells the fairy Puck to use the flower on Demetrius. Puck mistakenly uses the flower on Lysander and then trying to fix his error uses it on Demetrius as well, so now both the men are in love with Helena instead of Hermia. 

I really enjoy this story a lot because of the interesting plot. It is a great comedy. While I was reading I noted a few things that I found to be interesting. This play mentions the queen of Carthage, which I thought was interesting as this is the second book I have read in the past couple weeks that talks about this queen. A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James (https://rebeccabookreview.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/2014-book-61/) also mentions the Queen of Carthage (Dido). Act I scene 1 line 173 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream says “And by that fire which burned the Carthage queen” referencing the funeral pyre that Dido threw herself upon. I also found Act III scene 2 around lines 300-325 interesting because I do believe that was England’s portrayal of a cat fight. I can just picture Hermia with her fists up and Helena trying to find somewhere to hide so she doesn’t get punched in the face. 

This is a great play and a true comedy. Perfect for lifting your spirits! I found the “Pelican Shakespeare” vision so easy to use, there were footnotes that explained various words, phrases, and references. I know reading Shakespeare can appear a bit daunting to some but I would definitely recommend giving this play a try! It is a great read!!

Link to Wikipedia article on Queen of Carthage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dido_(Queen_of_Carthage)

Link to Wikipedia article on A Midsummer Night’s Dream play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Midsummer_Night’s_Dream

Link to website about William Shakespeare: http://www.william-shakespeare.info/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Midsummer-Pelican-Shakespeare-published-Classics/dp/B00E297RCE/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407789248&sr=1-9&keywords=pelican+shakespeare+midsummer+night%27s+dream