Book Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks

review-cover-the one memory of flora banksTitle: The One Memory of Flora Banks

Author: Emily Barr

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Rating: 4 Stars (3.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings about this book. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr was a bit of a slow paced read. It started slow, and it continued to remain at that slow pace throughout the book. Part of this can be attributed to Flora’s voice. She is often confused and inside her head through most of the story, and it tended to slow the pace down. Not only that, but her natural voice for the narration of this book is very dry and lacking in any overt personality. This is probably one of the biggest factors of why I dropped my rating for this book down to a 3.5 or 4 stars. I had a hard time telling if Flora’s dry, vegetative voice was a byproduct of her medication, her damaged brain, the author’s inability to write young characters, or a case of over-editing. It kind of sucked the life out of the book, and for some people, this is going to be the reason they set this book down.

That being said, I did enjoy this book quite a lot. Flora’s medical condition, though used before in fiction, is still a relatively fresh idea, and very much a fascinating one. It creates all sorts of problems in Flora’s life and became a captivating twist in the narrative as the reader is swept along with the mystery of Flora’s life. The plot was one of the biggest draws for this book, and it kept me enthralled as I followed Flora along on her adventure. Another positive point was the characters. I liked them—nearly all of them—and despite the relatively small amounts of time we got to spend with most of them, they seemed well fleshed out.

There were some parts of this story that were definitely hard to stomach. The way Flora’s parents and others treated her sometimes enraged me. It was heartbreaking to see so many people avidly lying to Flora and abusing her trust. On the other side of the coin though, there were also a lot of really great characters that were kind to Flora. It balanced out well, and even if I didn’t particularly like how Flora was being treated, it lead to a provocative narrative.

If you enjoy contemporary YA fiction, and you’re looking for a book that will make you think, this may be a good pick for you. This is a slow read, and Flora’s narrative voice isn’t going to be for everyone, but the core of the story is thought-provoking and captivating, and if you give it a chance, you won’t be wasting your time.

Free Fiction Friday #80

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #80! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: RANDOM!

Note: I don’t do these often, but every once in awhile it’s fun to just grab random books out of random genres based on their covers and my usual requirements for FFF’s, and see what comes up. Use this opportunity to try something new!

 

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: Mind Waves

review-cover-Mind WavesTitle: Mind Waves [Mind Hackers 1]

Author: Amanda Uhl

Genre: Paranormal, Thriller, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

If he can control her mind…

Government operative David Jenkins is skilled at controlling his emotions. Feelings are lethal when your job is to infiltrate minds, erase and implant thoughts, and guard the nation’s intellectual capital. But even he can’t fight his strange attraction to Grace Woznisky. He’ll do whatever it takes to protect her from a madman intent on possessing both their minds. Neither suspect their dangerous enemy has a larger motive, and David may be Grace’s only chance for survival.

Can he control her heart?

All freelance artist Grace wants is steady-paying work and to see her flighty sister to the altar. But after David offers her a job, she finds herself in the middle of a mental tug of war—one that has her reeling from nightmares and fighting for her life. She must decide: Are her growing feelings for her new boss authentic, or is she a victim of his mind-altering abilities?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, Mind Waves by Amanda Uhl isn’t my typical pick for a romance. Sure, it has all the elements I love in fiction: Suspense, Romance, Paranormal… but I don’t often look to combine all three. However, I find that I enjoyed this book regardless. There was a lot of tension in this book and a sense of imminent danger. The romance was equal parts dangerous, sweet, and sexy.

The only thing that didn’t quite sit right with me was the mind-reading bits (and I’ll admit that’s a pretty significant part of the book). I couldn’t get over the weird in-mind visuals of the guys fighting with long whip-like arms, the constant referral to “portals” and “happy place”. It came across as a bit cheesy. Although I can’t quite put my finger on it, it felt almost… dated… reminding me of similar books I read in the late 90’s. I’m sure it’s probably just a personal hang up… but I just couldn’t get over it.

I also wish the sweet and sometimes sexy romance between the two main characters had been a little more sexually charged. The couple spent so much time doubting and arguing with each other that I sometimes forgot they were in love. It would have been nice to see a little more sexual tension thrown in, and a few more endearing moments to round it out.

That being said–it wasn’t all bad. I found the plot compelling. I liked the characters (even the evil ones). The writing was impeccable; the pace moved along steadily and I never ran into any jarring grammatical issues or structure hang-ups. Despite my rather tepid feelings towards how the mind-reading was handled, I did enjoy the book quite a bit. Which why I gave it four stars. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of readers out there that enjoy certain aspects of the books more than I did, and I encourage you to give this book a try if it sounds like something you might be interested in. I’d say it leans a little more heavily towards the suspenseful side of the plot than the romance, but there’s still a good measure of romance to it. Give it a try.

Book Review: About A Dog

review-cover-about a dogTitle: About a Dog [A Bluff Point Romance 1]

Author: Jenn McKinlay

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Mackenzie “Mac” Harris fled her hometown of Bluff Point, Maine, after being left at the altar–and seeking solace in the arms of her best friend’s off-limits brother. Now, seven years later, she’s back to attend her best friend’s wedding–safe, or so she thinks, from the mistakes of her youth.

But Gavin Tolliver has never forgotten the woman who has always held his heart. And when Mac rescues a stray puppy named Tulip, only Gavin, the town’s veterinarian, can help. With a little assistance from Tulip, Gavin vows to make Mac realize that their feelings are more than just puppy love…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

About a Dog by Jenn McKinlay was a heart-warming, sexy read from start-to-finish. This was one of those books that I like to label a “sure read”. The book falls back on some common contemporary romance tropes, but the familiarity of those tropes is one of the reasons why the book works so well to begin with. This is one of those books that you pick up, and you know you’re going to get the warm fuzzies.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. The narrative flowed well, moved at a good, steady pace, and I didn’t run into a lot of typos or grammatical errors that would have brought me out of the story. The characters were interesting, distinct, and likable for the most part (okay, maybe not Mac’s underwhelming “boyfriend”. It’s real hard to like that guy. The humor and witty dialogue really made the story engaging. Overall, it was a solid read.

So why’d I give it four stars, and not five? Well, honestly, I think there could have, and even should have, been more to it. This was an incredibly quick read, and I wish I’d had longer to really sink into the relationship between Mac and Gavin. Their romance was so adorable and steamy at times, that I was really drawn to the main couple, and it was kind of disappointing that my time with them was over so quickly. Yes, I am complaining that this book ended too soon. That’s not all though. There were a few opportunities in the book when I felt like there could have easily been more tension added to the plot—especially between Mac and Gavin. It felt like there were these secrets and lies built up throughout the story that didn’t really go anywhere. The conflict was just kind of glossed over in the end, and everyone forgave everyone else, and they lived happily ever after—and I have no problem with happily ever after… I just expected more of a journey to get there.

All that aside, I really did enjoy the book. It was cute, and if you like contemporary romance and you want a sexy, feel-good book, this is a safe bet.

Free Fiction Friday #79

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #79! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: YA Dystopian!

 

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: As We Know It

review-cover-as we know itTitle: As We Know It

Author: Carrie Butler

Genre: Romance, Survival, Adventure, Natural Disaster

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Deep beneath the ocean, stretching hundreds of miles alongside the Pacific Northwest coastline, lies the Cascadia subduction zone—a fault on the verge of unleashing a catastrophic earthquake, thirty times more powerful than the San Andreas. Unfortunately, like most tourists, Elena Cordova is oblivious.

She’s got her own pent-up stress to deal with, a humiliating breakup that’s driven her to end her tenure as a human doormat once and for all. So, when a pickpocket makes off with the last remnant of her relationship, she takes action—only to get trapped with him when disaster strikes.

Now, if either one hopes to survive, they’ll have to get past their initial impressions and work together . . . because in fifteen minutes, half the town will be underwater.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What a fantastic read. Honestly. I’ll admit, I was a little thrown off by how this book began. I opened it up, and for a few short minutes, I sank into what felt every bit to be a contemporary romance. I forgot for a moment that the cover looked apocalyptic, and then BOOM, everything changed—much like, I imagine, it changed for Elena and Vincent.

As We Know It by Carrie Butler was a gripping survival tale that I felt, portrayed a natural disaster situation in a reasonably accurate light. The situation felt not only real, but plausible every step of the way, and I was sucked into the harrowing world of Elena and Vincent for a few hours. The book was wonderfully well written. I only found a couple of typos, and nothing jarring enough to pull me out of the story. The characters were complex and imperfect, but genuine. The romance was surprisingly sweet, and the banter between the two lead characters was compelling and dynamic.

I honestly don’t have anything to complain about with this book. I absolutely adored it. It was tense, gritty, believable, and heartwarming all at once. If you’re looking for a gripping adventure story, look no further.

Book Review: Protected by the Mountain Wolf

review-cover-protected by the mountain wolf

Title: Protected by the Mountain Wolf [Mountain Wolf Protectors 1]

Author: Emilia Hartley

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Amara’s life changed the moment she was attacked by a group of wolves. She was only 15 at the time, who could blame her for ignoring her grandfather’s warnings? She quickly began to believe all those stories he told her about the wolves who protected their town, Strathford. The wolves who could turn into humans. Shifters, as she learned they were called.

Ten years had passed since then, and Nova still couldn’t forgive himself for letting the Valley Clan slip into their territory unnoticed. If only he had been there in time. Since that day, he made a vow to himself to protect her, no matter what happens. Though he didn’t personally know Amara, he felt a connection to her after watching over her all these years. With his curiosity growing each day, he finally decided to visit her at work. He’d talk to her for an hour, settle his curiosity and then never speak to her again. Or so he thought…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Protected by the Mountain Wolf is the first book I’ve read by Emilia Hartley and I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The book was well edited and easy to read. I didn’t run into any glaring mistakes or structural issues. The narrative moved along quickly. I will admit though, that the quick pace of the book was also one of the drawbacks for me. Personally, I like to sink into my fiction and live there for awhile, and I felt like I couldn’t necessarily do that with this book. Also, perhaps because of the pace, the sex scenes seemed to lack some of the sexual tension I was expecting.

That being said,  I adored the characters, the romance, and the danger of the plot. It was a good story, and if wishing a book were a little longer is its only flaw—that’s a pretty good flaw to have. If anything, I wish there had been more to the story.

If you’re looking for a fast paced, easy paranormal romance to read through over the weekend or an afternoon, this would probably be a solid choice for you. I look forward to reading more by this author in the very near future.