Monday, February 10, 2014

Red Hill by Jamie McGuire


When the world ends, can love survive?

For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone means fighting for tomorrow is an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.

When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.

Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?

Red Hill grabs you from the first page and doesn’t let go until its stunning conclusion. This is #1 New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire at her unforgettable best.


Before I give my Red Hill review, I'll tell you a little about myself.  When it comes to books, I'm a girly girl. I seek out stories with princesses & fairies.  I also love sweet boys who love with their whole heart & cherish every moment with their special someone.  Because of this, I never fully connected with Beautiful Disaster & Walking Disaster and all of the love that flooded the internet for Travis Maddox.  I know to some this is blasphemy, but it's just who I am. Give me roses over tattoos any day!  That said, I can't deny being taken away by Jamie McGuire's writing.  I couldn't put down either of the previously mentioned books or any of the three books in her Providence series.  So, when it came to Red Hill, I was torn.  I wanted to read it because I had no doubt it would be a well written story, but I don't do horror...

However, when I saw that our local library had a copy, I decided to finally give in.  I am so glad I did.  I haven't been that sucked into a story in a long time.  I would catch myself crawling into bed & staring at the book debating if it was a good idea to read before bedtime & then deciding it was worth the potential nightmares because I couldn't wait until morning & risk another busy day stealing my opportunity to read.

The story is told through three main points of view.

  1. Scarlett is a single mother who dropped her daughters off at school on the day the world ended.  They were to spend the weekend with their father.  Now her only hope is that they are still alive out there somewhere & that they remember the song that would lead them to Red Hill Ranch...the safest location that Scarlett can think of to escape to.
  2. Nathan comes home to find that as the world was changing outside, his wife had run away, leaving behind him & his young daughter with only a note to explain her actions.  More relieved than saddened by her departure, Nathan takes to the road to find a safe place for him & Zoe.
  3. Miranda, her sister & their boyfriends get more of an adventure than they had planned on as they drive away from college in her VW Bug for a weekend escape.
Each group has their own reasons for heading toward Red Hill Ranch, and Jamie weaves their stories together beautifully.  While there are hints of romance throughout the book, this isn't a love story.  Because of that, it is quite a bit different than her other books, but I think I enjoyed it more because of that difference.  I love to see authors step a bit outside their norm & watch when they succeed.  It makes me want to read more of their work to see how they grow & evolve with their experience.

Red Hill was so much more than a zombie book and so much more than a love story.  It makes you question who you are, what you would do for those who matter most in your life, & how far you are willing to go to survive.  My recommendation, grab this book (and maybe a nightlight!) and jump in for a wild ride!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Song of The Fireflies by Jessica Redmerski

About the author:

J.A. Redmerski, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children, two cats and a Maltese. She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries and is a huge fan of AMC's The Walking Dead.

Travel is an important part of several of J.A. Redmerski's books.  
Here are her Top 5 Places to Visit.
1. Italy
2. New Zealand
3. Georgia (United States)
4. Washington
5. The Grand Canyon

   Song of the Fireflies
Brayelle Bates has always been a force of nature. Even as a child, Bray's wild and carefree spirit intimidated everyone around her. The only person who's ever truly understood her is her best friend, Elias Kline. Though every fiber of her being wants to stay with Elias forever, Bray can't bear the thought of him discovering her agonizing history. She's done everything she can to keep him at arm's length, including moving away. But their undying bond was too strong a pull to deny, and Bray couldn't survive without him. Now she's back home with Elias, and things have never felt more right-until one night changes everything.

Elias vowed never to be separated from Bray again. So when she decides to flee in a desperate attempt to escape her fate, Elias knows he must go with her. As the two try to make the most of their circumstance, taking up with a reckless group of new friends, Elias soon realizes there's a darkness driving Bray he can't ignore. Now in order to save her, he'll have to convince Bray to accept the consequences of their reality-even if it means losing her.

  Bonus Excerpt

Bray and I spent the whole night in the field chasing the fireflies and laying on the grass, staring up at the stars. She told me all about her sister, Rian, and how she was a snob and was always mean to Bray. I told her about my parents, because I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. She said I was lucky. We talked forever, it seemed. We may have been young, but we connected deeply on that night. I knew we would be great friends, even better friends than Mitchell and I had been, and I had known him since first grade, when he had tried to con me out of my peach cup at lunch.

And before the night was over, we made a pact with each other that would later prove to see us through some very troubled times.

“Promise we’ll always be best friends,” Bray said, lying next to me. “No matter what. Even if you grow up ugly and I grow up mean.”

I laughed. “You’re already mean!”

She elbowed me.

“And you’re already ugly,” she said with a blush in her cheeks.

I gave in, though really I needed no convincing. “OK, I promise.”

We gazed back up at the stars; her fingers were interlaced and her hands rested on her belly.

I had no idea what I was getting into with Brayelle Bates. I didn’t know about such things when I was nine. I didn’t know. But I would never regret a moment with her. Never.

Bray and I were found early the following morning, fast asleep in the grass. We were awoken by three cops; Mr. Parson, who owned the land; and my frantic mother, who thought I had been kidnapped from my room, stuffed in a suitcase, and thrown on the side of a highway somewhere.


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**Edited March 1, 2014 to add review**

***ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Making myself sit down and write this review has been hard. I have struggled with what to say since the moment I closed the book. I loved The Edge of Always & The Edge of Never, and was really excited when I received the ARC for Song of The Fireflies. Then I started reading it…and stopped to read another book…and then started again…and was tempted to stop several more times. Knowing that I had signed up to do the release day blog tour kept me going because I wanted to publish my review with the tour, and I wanted to show my support to the author. However, when I sat down to write the review, I kept thinking, “What do I say about a book I didn’t love from an author that I do?”

I had a really hard time connecting with Song of the Fireflies. I didn’t like either of the main characters or most of the choices they made. It starts as a sweet story of two kids meeting & instantly connecting & then jumps forward to two adults who have spiraled down the rabbit hole of sex, drugs & alcohol. I read a lot of NA & Romance novels with varying levels of heat, but the frequency, graphic nature & language used in the sex scenes here was off-putting to me. I also struggled with how quickly everything happened in the beginning. Inseparable children - jump forward - young adults in love but afraid to admit it (yet somehow managing to completely hide their feelings while experimenting sexually)…a tiny bit of honesty…running away - jump forward - running back...inseparable adults who would die if they weren’t together. All within the first few chapters.

This is about the point that I took a break and switched to another book. A couple of weeks later, it bothered me that I didn’t finish & decided to pick it up again. I wish I could say I was glad I did, but I am torn. I am glad I made it to the end but the experience of actually reading the book isn’t something I’d wish to go through again. What you get is a look into the mind of a mentally ill girl & the boy who is addicted to her. I appreciate the challenge that this subject must have been to tackle as an author, and imagine that the story is more true to life for some than I can even imagine. Unhealthy relationships & lifestyles are sadly more of a reality than the fairytales we read about in most books, and Song of the Fireflies brings attention to situations that most people would rather ignore. I’m glad I didn’t give up on it, but because of everything mentioned above, I could never recommend it lightly. It’s a hard read, a rollercoaster of emotions, with an ending that is tied up almost as quickly and neatly as it began. While I still love J.A. Redmerski & look forward to reading her other books, I will proceed with caution knowing that I’m not guaranteed a fun, light-hearted ride.


This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher. The winners will be announced & prizes supplied directly from them at the end of the giveaway period.