Mini Reviews! Love, Death, and Revenge: All Broke Down by Cora Carmack and Redemption of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

All Broke Down (Rusk University #2)
by Cora Carmack
Published on October 28, 2014
by William Morrow

Source: bought
Synopsis from Goodreads: Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one. Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians you name it, she's probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He's in for a different kind of fighting. And though he's arrogant and infuriating, she can't help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it's trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He's met girls like her before fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn't think he's broken, and he definitely doesn't need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about: his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help. Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.
My take: It's surprising, as indifferent to football as I am, how much I'm enjoying this series of companion books about football players at Rusk University and the women who love them. This second installment was a bit more classic NA: two people who've taken some hard knocks from life entering a hot and steamy no-strings relationship and then -- spoilernotspoiler -- falling in love. But I still enjoyed it. I worried that I might find crusader Dylan to be a self-righteous pain, but I really loved the way Cora Carmack wrote her character. Dylan has a personal understanding of how flawed the world is, and that's why she wants to try to fix it. 

BUT ... just as all things swoony and romantic were starting to wrap up at the end, there was this thing that happened.  It wasn't directly related to the main plot and I wasn't expecting it and I don't think I had time to process it. Yes, it raises a lot of interesting and important issues, but I wasn't sure about the placement of it in the story. Are the repercussions of this this going to be a subplot in the third book, and then be addressed in a fourth? I will wait and see....

The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3)
by Michelle Hodkin
Published by Simon & Schuster
on November 4, 2014

Source: library

Synopsis from Goodreads: Mara Dyer wants to believe there's more to the lies she’s been told. There is. She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should. She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance. She will now. Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story. Retribution has arrived...

My take: I really enjoyed the mystery and the sense of being off-balance that the first two books in this series gave me. Can Mara really do the terrible things she thinks she can, or is she insane, or is someone trying to make her think she's insane? I loved speculating about all this, and to be honest, when I got answers, I realized that I sort of missed all the guessing and uncertainty.

Yes, this book does tie up all (or most) of the loose ends that the first two books leave tantalizingly dangling around. By the second book, I began to realize that this was not the "am I crazy?" story I'd hoped, but more the unraveling of a real-life conspiracy. I never find conspiracies in fiction to be all that believable. Then, there was revenge. As the book's title suggests, there's a fair amount of bloody retribution, so much that I began to wonder if it was really happening or if it was just happening in Mara's somewhat unbalanced imagination. (Not telling!) I also felt the book was a bit segmented. There was a long action/violence section, then a big section of exposition and then a (spoiler) small section of romance.  No, of course Noah is not dead. I never believed that for a second. (spoiler).

So, while I guess got the answers I wanted in this final installment, I'm not sure they were the answers I wanted, if that makes sense. 


  1. Oh GOD, the Redemption of Mara Dyer has been one of my most awaited books of 2014! I've finally got my hands on it, can't wait to dig into it :) Violence? Come to me. Great review, Jen!

    1. Ha -- you will not be disappointed in the violence department!!

  2. I wanted to read TRoMD but I realized I don't' remember a thing front he first two books lol

    I like the Carmack series too but I agree about that twist at the end. It didn't fit with Dylan/Silas's story and felt too important to tack on as a set up for another book.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. Yeah, I didn't remember everything for sure. It was a long wait between those last two books!

  3. Oh my goodness, I'm so nervous about starting the Mara Dyer trilogy. I've waited so patiently for it to be completed but now that it's here, I'm kind of freaking out about it. ALSO I need to go ahead and read the Carmack books - I enjoyed her other series so I suspect I'll like this one too. Love your mini reviews, Jen. (:

  4. I agree with your thoughts on All Broke down and Yes I want that addressed and I hope that this comes up in the 4th book. She is my fave character . I thought this the mara series was all crazy lol

  5. I'm dying to read Mara Dyer, but my package got lost in the mail and *sighs* now I have to wait and see what I can do.
    Great reviews, Jen!

  6. Ahhh, I'm scared to read the final Mara Dyer book! I'm curious about the first book but I'm just not a fan of contemporary series. Is it a series about the same couple, or companions about different couples?

  7. I agree with your thoughts on the Mara Dyer book!! I wasn't really excited about how that series wrapped. Yes answers but not answers I liked.

  8. I haven't tried Carmack's university series mostly because I could give two damns about football. I know I'll get curious enough to pick it up one day though.

    Ooo Mara Dyer, I really need to read the second installment.

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  9. Aww sorry to hear the ending to Mara wasn't what you hoped even though you got answers

  10. Sometimes it surprises me how much I like books that include sports which I am entirely clueless about. One book like that for me was Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. I am glad to see you liked that book even though the ending was kind of... uncalled for? I really want to read the Mara Dyer series as well! I like the idea of an ending where all the loose ends are tied together well.


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