Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ARC Review: The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick

The Girl Who Knew Too MuchTitle: The Girl Who Knew Too Much
Author: Amanda Quick
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Books; May 9, 2017
Genre: Historical; Romantic Suspence
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Amanda Quick, the bestselling author of ’Til Death Do Us Part, transports readers to 1930s California, where glamour and seduction spawn a multitude of sins…

When Hollywood moguls and stars want privacy, they head to an idyllic small town on the coast, where the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel caters to their every need. It’s where reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool. Seeking the truth, Irene finds herself drawn to a master of deception. Oliver Ward was once a world-famous magician—until he was mysteriously injured during his last performance. Now the owner of the Burning Cove Hotel, he can’t let scandal threaten his livelihood, even if it means trusting Irene, a woman who seems to have appeared in Los Angeles out of nowhere four months ago. With Oliver’s help, Irene soon learns that the glamorous paradise of Burning Cove hides dark and dangerous secrets. And that the past—always just out of sight—could drag them both under…

My Thoughts:

You know, I felt like I was expecting more from The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick than what I actually got. It was an okay story, but I have some thoughts about this one. At first glance, The Girl Who Knew Too Much has a very interesting premise. I was interested more in how the mystery would work with the time period this book was set in. 1930s California, that’s what the synopsis said, and I did see hints of elements that alluded to the time period.

This is definitely a romantic suspense novel. On top of the both mysteries, there was a heavy emphasis on the romance. It didn’t start out that way. The beginning was really good. I got the sense of urgency that the character felt, and the danger was front and center. But as the story progressed, the focus seemed to shift a little. There was a lot going on—and I mean A LOT—and I almost feel like some aspects of the story weren’t given enough time. That brings me to the conflict. The initial start of the whole thing was incredible. It wasn’t necessarily packed to the brim with action, but the opening chapters set up an atmosphere of suspense. However, the end was just okay
—and a little anticlimacticwhich makes me kind of sad because the beginning was so strong.

Irene Glasson was an okay character. I liked her more in the beginning, some of her decisions were just kind of meh, but her character development turned out to be alright. The rest of the characters were pretty interesting, but I just don’t have anything to say about them.

Overall, The Girl Who Knew Too Much was a pretty average read for me, and I would definitely consider picking up another book by this author.

Rating 3/5

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

About the author...

Pseudonym of Jayne Ann Krentz

The author of over 40 consecutive New York Times bestsellers, JAYNE ANN KRENTZ writes romantic-suspense, often with a psychic and paranormal twist, in three different worlds: Contemporary (as Jayne Ann Krentz), historical (as Amanda Quick) and futuristic (as Jayne Castle). There are over 30 million copies of her books in print. She earned a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to obtain a Masters degree in Library Science from San Jose State University in California. Before she began writing full time she worked as a librarian in both academic and corporate libraries. Ms. Krentz is married and lives with her husband, Frank, in Seattle, Washington...

Friday, April 28, 2017

ARC Review: One Good Thing by Wendy Wax

One Good Thing (Ten Beach Road, #5)Title: One Good Thing
Author: Wendy Wax
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; April 25, 2017
Genre: Womens Fiction
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

From the USA Today bestselling author of Sunshine Beach, a story of four women trying to rebuild more than their lives...

Before you can fix it up, you might have to tear it down...

Embroiled in a battle to regain control of their renovation-turned-reality TV show, Do Over, Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra find themselves holding tight to the frayed ends of their friendship and relationships. Maddie must face the realities of dating a rock star once again topping the charts and deal with her hapless ex-husband, while Avery is caught up in family drama even as she attempts to transform a tiny cottage into a home for the newly impoverished heiress who helped bankroll their last renovation. Put on bedrest, a hugely pregnant Nikki can’t quite believe love can last, or trust in her own maternal instinct. And Kyra, who has secretly put Bella Flora at risk in an attempt to salvage Do Over, must decide whether to accept a desperately needed bail out from her son’s famous father that comes with far too many strings attached. But friendship is made for times like these, to keep each other—and their dreams—from crumbling...

My Thoughts:

Lately, I’ve ended up with books that are pretty late in the series. So, I was kind of worried that I might have some trouble following the story since One Good Thing by Wendy Wax is the fifth book in the series. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, and I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. One Good Thing was very much a story about love, loss, endings, and new beginnings. And guys, it was pretty fantastic.

One Good Thing is definitely one of those books that is driven by the characters. That’s what the book was primarily about but it does it in such a hopeful yet bittersweet way, and I found that completely compelling. Wax took such seemingly ordinary characters and expertly put them into situations that illustrated the potential highs and lows of life. The issues that many of the characters faced were done pretty well and gave a highly emotional aspect to the plot. It was more than easy to get into the story.

I actually enjoy multiple points of view in books, and this is just another good example of why it does work. There were a lot of characters that had their own perspectives, but honestly, I didn’t even mind. I liked reading from so many viewpoints and getting to see the different experiences and sides of the story, despite the characters being in the same environment. Each character had their own unique voice and I never felt like I was reading from the perspective of characters that were carbon copies of each other.

Despite getting such a late start in the series, I’m glad that I went ahead and read One Good Thing anyway, because it was a great story.

Rating 4/5

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

About the author...

Wendy Wax, a former broadcaster, is the author of thirteen novels, including Sunshine Beach, A Week at the Lake, While We Were Watching Downtown Abby, The House on Mermaid Point, Ocean Beach, and Ten Beach Road. The mother of two grown sons, she lives in Atlanta with her husband and is doing her best to adjust to the quiet of her recently emptied nest...
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ARC Review: Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym

Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life UnstrungTitle: Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung
Author: Min Kym
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown Publishing Group; April 25, 2017
Genre: Memoir; Nonfiction
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The spellbinding memoir of a violin virtuoso who loses the instrument that had defined her both on stage and off -- and who discovers, beyond the violin, the music of her own voice...

Her first violin was tiny, harsh, factory-made; her first piece was -Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star.- But from the very beginning, Min Kym knew that music was the element in which she could swim and dive and soar. At seven years old, she was a prodigy, the youngest ever student at the famed Purcell School. At eleven, she won her first international prize; at eighteen, violinist great Ruggiero Ricci called her -the most talented violinist I've ever taught.- And at twenty-one, she found -the one, - the violin she would play as a soloist: a rare 1696 Stradivarius. Her career took off. She recorded the Brahms concerto and a world tour was planned. Then, in a London cafe, her violin was stolen. She felt as though she had lost her soulmate, and with it her sense of who she was. Overnight she became unable to play or function, stunned into silence. In this lucid and transfixing memoir, Kym reckons with the space left by her violin's absence. She sees with new eyes her past as a child prodigy, with its isolation and crushing expectations; her combustible relationships with teachers and with a domineering boyfriend; and her navigation of two very different worlds, her traditional Korean family and her music. And in the stark yet clarifying light of her loss, she rediscovers her voice and herself...

My Thoughts:

A while ago, I mentioned that I was going on a bit of a hiatus from reading nonfiction. Well, that’s obviously over. It’s cancelled. I’m going to leave it at that, because when I saw Gone by Min Kym up for review, I was more than interested. Gone sounded like the kind of book I would love to read, and my initial assessment was right. Gone was truly a fantastic memoir that was worth the time I spent reading it.

I’ve read a couple of memoirs here and there, but Gone was something else. The subject dealt with music, which I rarely read about. Still, this seemed like such and authentic book because of the writing—which was engrossing—but also because Kym herself is the violinist. Min Kym wrote about her personal experiences. She talked about the expectations that were placed on her because of her obvious and natural skill with a violin and how her early lessons and learned habits ultimately affected her life. Gone detailed some of the most pivotal times in her life—both emotionally and professionally—and painted an honest picture. It was written from the perspective of a person who was a child prodigy from their perspective, not told by someone else. Gone was as much about the violin that was unjustly taken as it was the violinist behind the bow. And let me tell you, the result was powerful.

I could write more about Gone, but I’m not trying to summarize the whole memoir. There wouldn’t be a point to it. You’d have to read it to truly understand. That’s all I can say.

Now, I have looked up more about Min Kym and discovered that there is an album that was released as a companion to this book. I have listened to it. And it has reminded me of why I still, to this day, enjoy listening to classical music.

So, if you read the memoir also listen to the companion album too. That’s my recommendation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have music to listen to.

Rating 5/5

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!

Monday, April 3, 2017

I watched Jean of the Joneses...

Title: Jean of the Joneses
Written by: Stella Meghie 
Produced by: Floyd Kane; Amos Adetuyi; Stella Meghie
Directed by: Stella Meghie
Watched/Channel: TV; TV One

My thoughts:

I don’t normally talk about the stuff I watch on TV, especially on Reading on the Rocks. However, I had a lot of thoughts about Jean of the Joneses, so I decided to write about it for the blog anyway.

You know, I really like when I happen to find a movie that totally surprises me, and that’s what happened with Jean of the Joneses. I literally knew nothing about this movie, but it happened to come on before I changed the channel I was watching. And, oh man, you guys, this movie was everything.

Jean of the Joneses is one of the best movies I’ve recently watched. There was something so real about the characters and how they handled and reacted to the situations in their personal and professional lives. A lot of the character development happened gradually, and was done in a way that really added emotional depth to the movie. There was an almost realistic authenticity to it that was pretty amazing, and that made the film entirely engrossing.

I absolutely loved Jean Jones. She was going through a lot of things in her life. She wasn’t a perfect character, but her story was far more interesting because of it. She was at an impasse in her personal life and career, and it was interesting to see how she handled things as they were thrown her way. Jean was a writer. I liked how that detail was ultimately handled because the film presented a different view on the life of a writer. The actress they got to play Jean, Taylour Page, was absolutely phenomenal at portraying such a complex character.

Another thing I particularly liked was the dialogue. It’s one of the reasons why I loved this movie so much. The conversations that went on were so freaking entertaining.

There’s one more thing I want to mention before I close out this post, and that’s the relationships. I’m not going to go into specifics, but I felt like that was something worth noting. This wasn’t the kind of movie that only showed the good. No, it got into the bad and the messiness often involved in truly emotional situations between family and people who love or no longer care enough about each other.

So yeah, Jean of the Joneses was a phenomenal movie. All the stars for this one.

Rating 5/5

Check out the trailer...

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ARC Review & Spotlight: After I Fall by Jessica Scott

Title: After I Fall (Falling, #3)
Author: Jessica Scott
Publisher/Publication Date: Jessica Scott; March 21, 2017
Format/Source: eARC, Publisher
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Readers who want an extended sample can download here:
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Purchase links:
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Book Summary

Her entire life has been a lie. Being with Eli is the most honest thing she’s ever done. 

Parker Hauser lives the perfect life and knows exactly where she's been and where she's going. Parker has to be perfect. Perfect grades, perfect body, perfect life. 

Until she meets Eli Winter. 

Eli throws her entire life into chaos when he denies her the one thing she wants from him. 

One chance encounter stokes her desire for the man who refused to touch her and left her questioning everything. 

When Parker tries to help his new business, the spotlight turns on Eli's military record. And the war he's tried to forget may  destroy them both.


"What do you want?" A murmured question that feels like a demand. The single word I need is lodged in my throat. It’s thick and heavy, filled with potential and promise.
"You," I finally say.
"Why?" Such a complicated question. I search his face, looking for an answer, a lie, something simple to fill the space left by his question.
I lift my hand, afraid he'll see it tremble. It takes every ounce of willpower I've got to slide my fingers over his forearm. I'm surprised by the raw power beneath my touch. I expected the tattoos to be physical manifestations of the violence on his flesh. His skin is hot and smooth. My hand looks pale and small against it.
"You seem…" I lift my eyes to his, never removing my hand. "You seem like a straightforward kind of guy."
A man with rough hands and dark ink carved into his skin. A man so unlike the men I'm used to, it's not even funny. I lift my hand to his cheek, just above the edge of his beard. I've never touched a man with facial hair before. He is still beneath my touch.
A moment before I'm about to press my palm to his cheek, he grips my wrist. Not hard enough to hurt, but he definitely gets my attention.
"Not here." I swallow. My mouth is suddenly dry. "Where?"
He jerks his chin toward the dark hallway behind us. I follow him silently, wishing he was already touching me, making me feel, letting me pretend I matter, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
He leads me through the maze of small tables and patrons at various stages of intoxication. Away from the noise and the smell of fries and smoke and cologne and all the good things that bars have.We step out of the noise and into shadows and silence. He doesn't pounce, doesn't push me against the wall and run those rough hands over my skin.
Instead, he leans against it—a casual, arrogant male.
Waiting. I know for what. For me to make the first move.
For me to step into the space between us. For me to touch him first. I want to. But I am paralyzed. Rooted to the damp concrete beneath my feet. The cool night air might as well be chains, holding me, restraining any thought or movement.
He doesn't move. His arms are folded over his broad, heavy chest, his T-shirt straining against his body. The silence hangs on, stretching and thick and tight.
"Scared?" he finally whispers. A dare. A terrible, wicked promise in that single word.
"Should I be?" My throat is tight and dry.
His answer is nothing I expect.
And everything I want. 

My Thoughts

At first it was difficult to get into After I Fall by Jessica Scott—I just couldn't see where the plot was going. As it progressed and more information was revealed about Eli’s and Parker's histories, the story quickly began to turn around. While this book was super steamy, it was the characters that made the story. I like the fact that Scott chooses characters outside of the norm to be the heroine and hero. And I love how the secondary characters are incorporated into the story. The multilayered relationships added a touch of realism.  Scott put Parker in a situation in which she was a prisoner of her circumstances. Her history involved being in both controlling and abusive relationships. I appreciate the fact that the author brought other forms of abuse to light—especially when dealing with people in a position of power. I can't say much more about the story, because I don't want to include spoilers. However, I do recommend picking up a copy, because it's worth the read!

Rating 4/5

I received a copy of After I Fall from the Publisher for this review.

About The Author

Jessica Scott is an Iraq war veteran, an active duty army officer and the USA Today bestselling author of novels set in the heart of America’s Army. She is the mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, and wife to a retired NCO.

She is the bestselling author of the Homefront series and the Falling series, both about soldiers and veterans adjusting to life after returning from the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. Her bestselling Falling series features soldiers integrating into life on college campuses.

She's also written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/New Dawn and has had the honor of serving as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas twice.

She's holds phd in morality in Sociology with Duke University and she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.
Jessica is also an active member of the Military Writers Guild.

Her debut novel Because of You launched the return of Random House's Loveswept digital imprint and launched the start of the ever popular contemporary military romance genre. 

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