AnnAlysis: All Fall Down

all fall downFrom Goodreads
Allison Weiss got her happy ending: a handsome husband, an adorable daughter, a job she loves, and the big house in the suburbs. But while waiting in the pediatrician’s office, she opens a magazine to a quiz about addiction and starts to wonder: Is a Percocet at the end of the day really different from a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class, or if your husband ignores you? She tells herself that the pills help her make it through her days; but what if her increasing drug use, a habit that’s becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?

My Thoughts:
Jennifer Weiner is one of those authors that if you run across her books and have a chance to read them, you must do it. You’d be silly not to. I ran across this one on NetGalley and immediately added it to my TBR.

This one especially intrigued me due to the involvement of drug addiction. It’s such an epidemic, especially in the area where I live and work. In some way, shape, or form, everyone I know has had the pill problem on their doorstep, whether it b personal, a friend, or a family. In a small town, you’re bound to know someone.

I’ve read a couple of Weiner books and form everything I’m seeing from readers, this is quite a bit darker than most of Weiner’s books. It still has the wit that she is known for, but she really dives into the issue.

I actually really loved how Weiner portrayed Allison’s character. I felt like she really got down to the root of the Allison’s problem and really helped me understand where it came from. The possibility that her childhood, her marriage, and even motherhood played a role. Not to mention her work as a blogger and the success she was gaining from it. It’s all kind of like a train wreck. You can’t quit watching her descent into addiction.

I also thought it was very interesting reading about Allison’s reasoning for not believing she had a problem. My friend WriteMeg hit the nail on the head with her review of this book. This book really makes you sit back and think about our personal addictions. They may not be nearly as destructive as Allison’s but we all have them. Reading, running, Netflix… not necessarily dangerous, but all can get in the way of life. Throw in a little time on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and where did the day go? As Meg said, “We all have our coping mechanisms, our ways of tuning out the stresses of the day to finally find some measure of peace.”

I give All Fall Down 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

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Released: June 2014
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Also by this author:
Then Came You

AnnAlysis: The Best of Me

the best of meFrom Goodreads:
THE BEST OF ME is the heart-rending story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they’ve taken wildly divergent paths, but neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever altered their world. When they are both called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter, they will be forced to confront the choices each has made, and ask whether love can truly rewrite the past.

My Thoughts:
Nicholas Sparks is one of few authors that I always buy his books and always have them read by the time the movie comes out. He never ceases to make me laugh, make me cry, and make me reminisce about falling in love.

There are things that I always love about his books. I always love the romance and the passion. In each and every story. He is the master of making the heart melt. He could make even the biggest skeptic find at the least, a tiny shred of love. And the locations always make the stories. The settings are dreamy and romantic in themselves.

However, for the first time since I’ve started reading Sparks, there were times that I wanted to put this book down. I know. I am shocked myself. I have always loved everything about every book. But this one was tooo much like The Notebook in parts for me. We learn about the couple from two different times. The past when her family didn’t approve and the present where she is with someone else and they are reunited in the town where they fell in love. The mother shows up to try to talk some sense into her daughter. Any of these ring a bell? I really felt like I was reading the same book, with different character names. BUT I didn’t put the book down. I’m loyal. I haven’t put many down in my life and I wasn’t going to do it with this one. And I’m SO glad I kept with it. The last portion of this book was absolutely amazing and so different from what I expected.

So there were major ups and down for me in this one. I will follow up with the movie. And I’ll take tissues. I will warn you, you will need them too. I am interested to see how they make the movie different from The Notebook - or to see if they go off the book’s path to differentiate them. Here’s the trailer:

 

Did anyone else see a resemblance in these? Or am I stretching?

I give The Best of Me 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

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Released: March 2013
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AnnAlysis: We are the Goldens

we are the goldensFrom Goodreads:
Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellayla. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They’re a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell’s a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she’s happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it’s wrong, and she must do something about it.

My Thoughts:
This is a book that will really make you sit and think about your relationships with your siblings, or friends or family that are close enough to be siblings. Layla has a secret. Nell knows figures it out. Nell struggles with telling the secret because she knows there could be some very serious repercussions if anyone else finds out. As I said, this book really makes you think about your relationships. If you have a loved one that you are “sister close” with and they are making a bad decision – would you tell someone? What if it could end up with someone in jail? This is something Nell struggles with. The struggle is real. Does Nell tell her parents? Will it break the bond between the siblings to do the right thing?

Ok – so I have a bit of a spoiler below – if you don’t want to read it…. stop now.

I gave you your chance….

This book deals with the dreaded teacher-student relationship. I feel like we are seeing more and more of this in books, movies and tv. I know that there are some teachers who are 21 when they get into the classroom, only a few years older than the students they are teaching. They are still practically children themselves. HOWEVER, it is still wrong. I struggle with this scenario every time I see, or read, it. As much as I would like to relate and understand, I just can’t and it automatically makes me dislike the character. Same went for Layla here. I just couldn’t put it behind me.

I did enjoy how this story was told. It was told from Nell’s point of view, kind of in a letter to her sister, explaining why she was doing what she was doing.

The ending though let me with my jaw dropped – as in “Did she really just leave me hanging?” I get it, with all the thinking that I did throughout the book and what I would have done in Nell’s situation, the ending left me thinking about what could possibly have happened. There are rare occasions where I would like to have a chat with the author to see what happened after the story ended on paper. This is one of those occasions. I would really like to hear from Reinhardt how everyone took the news when the secret was out. What happened to Layla? And the teacher? And what did her parents say? And what happened with the relationship with Nell?

I give We are the Goldens 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

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Released: May 2014
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AnnAlysis: Shadows of Lancaster County

shadows of lancaster countyFrom Goodreads:
Anna Bailey thought she left the tragedies of the past behind when she took on a new identity and moved from Pennsylvania to California. But now that her brother has vanished and his wife is crying out for help, Anna knows she has no choice but to come out of hiding, go home, and find him. Back in Lancaster County, Anna follows the high-tech trail her brother left behind, a trail that leads from the simple world of Amish farming to the cutting edge of DNA research and gene therapy.

During the course of her pursuit, Anna soon realizes that she has something others want, something worth killing for. In a world where nothing is as it seems, Anna seeks to protect herself, find her brother, and keep a rein on her heart despite the sudden reappearance of Reed Thornton, the only man she has ever loved.

Following up on her extremely popular gothic thriller, Whispers of the Bayou, Mindy Starns Clark offers another suspenseful standalone mystery, one full of Amish simplicity, dark shadows, and the light of God’s amazing grace.

My Thoughts:
This one is going to be short and sweet. The book was just ok for me and even though it wasn’t that long ago that I read it, nothing is really sticking out for me to talk about.

I picked this up at a used book store during a trip up to see my cousin. I’ve been on a Christian Fiction/Amish kick lately. I love the purity of these books, but that they also have mystery, suspense, and a little love story woven in.

This one had all three of those, along with a little DNA testing that really pulled the story together.

But it fell flat for me. It was just ok. It took me several days to get through it and at points, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish it.

I give Shadows of Lancaster County 2.5 out of 5 bookmarks. However, this book is getting lots of great reviews on Goodreads. Check them out here. I did buy another book by this author when I was at the book store. I will definitely give it a try, but it may be a while before I’m ready to pick it up.

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Released: January 2009
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AnnAlysis: That Night

that nightFrom Goodreads:
As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent
complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.

My Thoughts:
I reviewed this book for SheReads.org. It’s the July pick and I am sooo thrilled they went with a mystery this month. I love expanding my horizons with the books they send my way every month, but am always thrilled to get in a good thriller.

And this one was definitely that. It told the story from the summer that Nicole was killed, then jumped to the present, when Toni and Ryan get out of prison and try to get back into society, as well as find the real killer. I loved how this story bounced back and forth telling a little history, with a little present day. It really helped tell the story completely.

This is a story of lies, betrayal, murder, mystery, heart break and sooo many emotions. There were times I felt so bad for Toni and Ryan, I wanted them so badly to find the murderer. It was a mixture of being sad and mad. There are little rays of hope, but they never seem to last long.

I must say I got a bit paranoid when reading this book. For some reason, I have this fear that something will be pinned on me that I didn’t do. I wouldn’t do well in prison, although I feel that I learned quite a big from Orange is the New Black and from what Toni went through in this book. So with that fear, I obviously had anxiety through a lot of this book, just drifting off and thinking what would happen if this was me. #worrywart

I think Stevens knocked Shauna’s character out of the ball park. What a great villain. She’s the stereotypical mean girl in high school, terrorizing anyone who dares to cross her. But what Stevens really nailed was the person who Shauna became when she grew up. Everyone wants to know what happened to the privileged mean girl. Shauna is like Gretchen Wieners. Her hair is so big because it is filled with secrets. But Shauna’s secrets are darker than you’d ever imagine.

I give That Night 5 out of 5 bookmarks.

As I mentioned, this is SheReads.org July pick. Click here to check out other great bloggers’ reviews, Chevy’s writing space and her playlist for this book, and Toni’s prom.

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Released: June 17, 2014
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