Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite

This is a book I will be thinking about for a long time. It’s the kind of book that makes you stay up until 2am reading it because you just have to know what happens on the next page. There wasn’t a place where I could stop reading and <i>not</i> think about it.

The web that surrounds Hobbs Pritchard draws you in slowly and before you know it, he’s managed to ensnare you, just like he does his ladies in the book. The different perspectives each woman gives of the same man shows just how complicated a person can be. There isn’t one true Hobbs, in my opinion. Each woman sees a different version of him, and they’re all right and wrong at the same time. As much as I disliked him as a person, his character is one of the best I’ve read.

As for each of the women, my heart went out to each and every one. They all had secrets that eventually came back to bite them, some worse than others. It didn’t matter what the reasoning was behind keeping the secrets, be it good or bad, the secrets ate at each woman and her life.

Something else I found wonderful was how strong the females are in this book. They might make bad choices, but who doesn’t in life? However, these women overcome these weaknesses and stand up for themselves, taking charge of their situation and doing what they need to do to make their lives better. I know I say it a lot, but I love real characters, and these women fit the bill. They found strength in their weaknesses, and transformed from characters in a book to real people in my mind.

This was not the simple read I thought it was going to be. It deals with the dark side of human nature, how keeping secrets can destroy good things and many women’s issues. This was a fantastic novel and Hite’s next book cannot be released soon enough.

Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt

I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like this book when I started. I was a little unsure about the infidelity aspect of the story and how Barnholdt would manage it. I didn’t know if I’d be able to like the main characters or if the story would make it seem like cheating is okay.

I was very happy with how it turned out. It was real, with both Hannah and Noah taking responsibility for how they each acted, knowing how they should have handled things and how they actually did handle them. Yes, some of it seemed a touch melodramatic, but it was written from a 17 year old’s point of view, and what teenager doesn’t over dramatize some things in life?

Each chapter seemed to end with something like a cliff hanger. You knew what would ultimately happen, but at the end of each chapter, when it switches between past and present day, you’re left wanting to know just a little bit more of the story.

As for the characters themselves, I love when they have flaws. And I don’t just mean a pimple or scar. I mean actual flaws that make them human. There wasn’t any perfection within the characters and I loved that. They were human with human problems and that made it easy to relate to.

This was a perfect end of summer read and it put Barnholdt on my list of authors I’ll be anxious to read again.

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

I enjoyed Going Too Far and Forget You, so I was extremely excited to read yet another one of Echols’ books. I was not disappointed and I only wish we had gotten more of Erin and Hunter’s story.

I liked how Echols included some of the stories Erin and Hunter wrote for their creative writing class within the story. It made some of the revelations about their history more interesting than simply telling it in the main story. You still got their back story, but it was not only from Erin or Hunter’s point of view, but from the characters they wrote.

I wish there had been a little bit more written about the class, the publishing internship, their relationship, as well as something more with her grandmother. It felt a little cut off and some of those loose ends weren’t tied up enough for the story to be really over. I felt like there could have been another couple of chapters to really end the story.

I can’t wait to read what else Echols writes in the future.

Damage Control by Denise Hamilton

This was a very enjoyable book, and pretty impressive for a first book from Hamilton. I really found myself interested in the murders and the cases surrounding them, as well as within the PR firm. She was able to create a very interesting and deep story, that not only works around solving a murder, but looks at the loyalties people face between when is right and wrong, between friends and self, and between loyalty to family over what is right and wrong. The many dynamics in the story make for a very in depth read.

The one thing I didn’t really feel fit into the story was the romance side of the story. Parts of it felt forced, as though they were only in there so readers of romance would be drawn into the story. When I finished the book, I could understand why things happened as they did, however, I still feel like parts of the “romance” just don’t fit. It took me out of the story for a little while, and I had to push that aside in order to get back into the story.

Overall, this was a great first book, and an amazing suspense story.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I’m not really sure what my expectations were when I started this book. All I know is every single one of them was shattered.

This is not a book you can just breeze through and understand. It makes you really read and drown in the rods on the page. There is so much emotion in every word, you can’t just skim it. this is a book that demands you read it.

The whole book is narrated by Death as he “works” through World War II. He tells Liesel’s story as she grows up during the war. She begins as an orphan, heading to her foster home but becomes so much more.

The one thing that I loved and hated about Death telling the story, was how well everything was foreshadowed, or in some cases, announced. Knowing what was coming just made me dread it more, because I knew there wouldn’t be a different outcome. If Death announced something, it was coming. It just made the emotional shock value increase, and tied a connection between me and war going on in the book. People die in war. You can’t change that. Knowing what will happen is sometimes worse than not knowing.

As depressing as the subject matter of the book is, somehow, the book itself is never completely depressing. It is not morbid. Liesel provides what this book needs to save it from being a depressing read. She and her Papa’s relationship is one of my new favorites. The love they had for each other nearly jumped off the page. In between all the ugly in the book, there was good.

This book made me feel more than most books in recent memory. The story grabs you by the heart and does not let go. It squeezes hard and tugs at you, but through the entire story, you are being held captive by the words that play so important a part within the story itself. This is not a book for young adults. It is a book for anyone. It will leave an imprint on you long after you finish reading the last page.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I’m not sure I can find the words I need to describe this book. The one word that keeps coming to mind is “amazing.”

I’ll be honest. I put off reading this book for a long time because I wasn’t sure I would like the topics and subject matter. I was worried it would be trivialized or made simpler just to get the book out. I have never been so happy to be wrong. This book was real and touching, and I found myself crying several times.

The characters felt so real and flawed. But on the flip side, even the “villain” of the story had a good side. They were real people, written the way they should be. That is what made this book so readable.

This is a book everyone needs to read. It’s a tough subject to handle, but The Help uses that to create a funny, empowering, uplifting book. I cannot wait to read more from Stockett.

To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Sandra Byrd

It’s never been a secret that I love books from the Tudor court. There is something about the drama that will always draw me in. There was so much in play during that time, and one can never really know for sure the truths and intents behind the actions of everyone involved.

I felt Anne was portrayed a little differently in this book, as compared to others I have read. In this book, she seemed less of the queen with no real feelings for those around her, caring only about how high she could raise herself, and appeared more genuine. She showed real concern for her best friend, and was portrayed as more of a person than that of a conniving woman, focused only on raising herself up to the highest position she could.

There are few books of this time period that show the loyalty and friendship that is portrayed in this book. Meg is presented with several times to leave and possibly save herself from being tied to Anne’s name forever, but she chooses to remain with her best friend and be the support Meg knows Anne can’t find anywhere else. She remains loyal to Anne until the end and I loved that. Meg had no secret intentions with Anne’s affections; she only wished to remain with her friend.

I loved this book and am looking forward to reading more of what Byrd has in store.

The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox by Nina Burleigh

I started this book thinking it was be much more of a straight-forward, data-fueled read, but was surprised when it went much more in-depth than that. It looked at the culture and the people involved, more than just a presentation of the evidence.

I was completely engrossed in the book, sometimes rereading parts several times over so I could be sure I had the right image in my head. There was mention of Amanda’s life in Seattle and what her friends thought of her personality and character. The book looked at the differences in behavior between Italy and the US and how those differences affected how people viewed Amanda.

The book does lean towards Amanda’s innocence, but Burleigh does not allow that bias to get in the way of the presentation of the facts, only in how she then applies the facts looks at the difference theories. She did amazing research for this book, and it is a compelling, sometimes disturbing look at the Amanda Knox trial.

Out in Blue by Sarah Gilman

I requested this book from NetGalley, and was extremely pleased when I was allowed to read it. The new look on angels and demons really interested me and I couldn’t wait to start reading.

Overall, the book was extremely well written, and I found myself very engrossed in the story. My only real complaint was how the story started. Readers are dumped right into the middle of a story and I would have liked to have a bit more of a build up, but even that did not distract me from the story.

Despite how fast the two main characters fell in love, and even though it didn’t seem natural, it didn’t feel forced, either. It just was and I actually found myself enjoying that.

I was a little worried about starting this book when I saw it was the first in a series, however this book can stand on it’s own, even as a set-up for the rest of the books. It was it’s own story and simply laid in place the elements necessary for the rest of the series. I loved the end of the book, and while I’m excited to read what’s next, I know this story is finished and it felt that way.

I greatly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see what comes next for these characters.

In a Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and I have pretty high standards when it comes to reading books that fit within that genre. I especially love books written in the era of King Henry VIII.

I started this book with high hopes after seeing the amazing reviews other people had left, but was left wishing it had had more. More history, more connections and more believablility. While I liked the characters as individuals, the relationship between Susanna and Parker seemed somewhat forced and I found it difficult to accept it.

I was hoping I’d be more entranced by the mystery at the heart of the story, but found myself easily distracted and not very into the plot.

I feel like this book had the potential to be something really amazing, but instead it came across a little flat, fast and forced.