Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Review: Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh


Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she's poured everything into dreams of expansion . . . and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park's tradition of stamping mail with the city's romantic postmark. When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn't come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail's new landlord, and he's threatening to end her lease to expand his practice. As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail's doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams . . . and her heart?

Paperback, 416 pages
Expected publication: January 1st 2015 by Tyndale House Publishers

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Tyndale via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is January 1st, 2015.

I found this story to be cute.  Taking place in a town where the entire existence revolves around love and epic love stories you have a main character who doesn't believe in love.  She has her reasons as she had seen it fail on more than one occasion.

Enter a handsome doctor who is threatening to take away everything she has ever wanted and a group of meddling ladies you have a mixture of both drama and humour.  Although you knew exactly what was going to happen it was fun watching it play out.

The romance aspect of this story was very clean.  Those who like their story steamy will have to look elsewhere.  Instead you see two people falling in love and fighting that feeling as they try to come to grips with the demons in their past.  There is some mention of God and praying so I feel it is only fair to forewarn in the event that it may not be your thing.

Overall this was a cute and easy read for me.  I like reading about small towns and the quirks of this one just added to the story.

About the Author
     


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Review: Love Me If You Dare by Toni Blake

Camille Thompson is the best at what she does—closing deals. That's why real estate developer Vanderhook has sent her to Coral Cove, Florida, where the stubborn owner of the Happy Crab Motel is refusing to sell. Camille's never had a problem turning a "no" into a "yes," but then she's never been so captivated by a man's sexy smile before.

Laidback Reece Donovan likes life simple. No amount of money—or any other temptation Camille can offer—will convince him to give up the one link to his past. Of course, it would be easier without the powerful chemistry raging between them.

As a fragile romance begins to grow, can Reece trust Camille with his secrets? And when promises are broken, along with hearts, can the charm of Coral Cove help bring them back together?


Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication: December 30th 2014 by Avon 
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Kristine's Thoughts: 

I received an advanced readers copy from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This is the second book in the Coral Cove series but it can be read as a stand alone. I did not read the first book and it did not impact the story.

Camille goes to the town of Coral Cove to convince the owner of The Happy Crab to sell his motel to make room for a luxurious high rise resort. When she meets the owner Reece, she realises that it isn't going to be as easy as she thought and decides to stay at the motel to try and convince him. She doesn't want to ruin her perfect record with her employer and will do almost anything to get the sale to go through. One thing she wasn't counting on was the immediate sexual attraction she feels that she is pretty sure is mutual. A tentative truce, friendship and budding romance ensues but there are many obstacles in the way of their happily ever after.

This story follows the typical formula of a contemporary romance but is made more enjoyable by the setting of Coral Cove. It is as much a character in the book as Cami and Reece and is described beautifully. I could picture myself strolling along the beach, snorkeling in the ocean and hanging out with the large group of people that are introduced throughout it.

Both Reece and Camille were likeable characters but in much different ways. Camille hid behind her tough exterior but inside was just as vulnerable and unsure as the next girl. Coral Cove really brought out the best in her. Reece was about as yummy as they come with the personality to match. There are also some four legged creatures involved that I loved reading about.

I would have to say that this is one of the better romance novels that I have read in a while. I really enjoyed the story, the town and the people. Blake mentions enough about a few of the other characters to set up for book three in the series. I for one look forward to reading it regardless of which character it will focus on because they are all great.
 



About the Author
Toni Blake's love of writing began when she won an essay contest in the fifth grade. Soon after, she penned her first novel, nineteen notebook-pages long, and announced to her mother over breakfast one day that she was going to be a writer when she grew up. Since then, Toni has become the author of more than a dozen contemporary romance novels. Her work has been excerpted in Cosmo, she's been a recipient of the Kentucky Women Writers Fellowship and a nominee for the prestigious Pushcart Prize, and she's also had more than forty short stories and articles published. Toni lives in the Midwest and enjoys traveling, genealogy, crafts, and snow skiing.

Toni has also written under the name Toni Blair.

Connect with Toni



Monday, 29 December 2014

Review: Always On My Mind (Christiansen Family #4) by Susan May Warren


After a failed dig in Honduras, aspiring archaeologist Casper Christiansen heads home to Minnesota to face his unresolved feelings for Raina Beaumont, the woman of his dreams. But when he arrives unannounced on her doorstep, he receives the shock of a lifetime: Raina is pregnant with someone else’s baby.

Heartbroken, especially when he discovers the identity of the baby’s father, Casper tables his dreams and determines to be dependable for once, helping his older brother, Darek, prepare the family resort for its grand reopening. Casper longs to be the hero of at least one family story, but a never-ending Deep Haven winter and costly repairs threaten their efforts—and the future of the resort.

Worse, one of Casper’s new jobs constantly brings him into contact with Raina, whom he can’t seem to forget. A tentative friendship begins to heal fresh wounds, but can they possibly overcome past mistakes and current choices to discover a future together?



Paperback, 400 pages

Expected publication: January 1st 2015 by Tyndale House Publishers      
Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Tyndale via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is January 1st 2015.

This was the fourth book in the Christiansen Family series however I was able to read it as a stand alone novel.  While I was left to wonder if the history between Casper and Raina occurred in one of the earlier books or occurred "off the page" it did not impact my ability to enjoy this story.

I enjoyed the fact that while this was about Casper and Raina that there were also some side stories with the rest of the Christiansen family.  It added a different element to the story.

I was frustrated throughout the story that Casper and Raina could not just surpass their inner ghosts and just admit that they belonged together.  Then in comes Monte and I disliked him from the beginning.  However without these problems there really wouldn't be a story would there?

The best part for me was the "treasure hunt" where we learned the story of Aggie and Thor and Duncan.  As a sucker for anything pertaining to trying to solve a love story from the past that is me.  This is my favorite type of story so every time the journal came out I was excited to find out what happens next.

Now I must offer a warning.  There is quite a bit mention of God and praying in this story and I would classify it in the genre of Christian romance.  While I tend to be put off if there is too much of this embedded in to a story it was not so much as to impact the story for me.  The only reason I mention this is that some people so not enjoy this type of read and therefore this may not be for them.  That being said, as a result this was a good clean read which can be refreshing.

Overall I enjoyed this book.  If I had one recommendation it would be to read the series from the beginning if only to enjoy the numerous member of the Christiansen family



About the Author

(From Goodreads profile)

I can't help be amazed at the gifts God has delighted me with - a wonderful husband, four amazing children, and the opportunity to write for Him.

I've been writing as long as I can remember - I won my first book writing contest in first grade! Over the years, writing has become, for me, a way to praise God and see Him at work in my life.

Although I have a degree in Mass Communications from the University of MN, my real writing experience started when I penned the The Warren Report - a bi-monthly newsletter that detailed our ministry highlights.

Living in Russia meant I never lacked for great material - and those experiences naturally spilled out first into devotionals and magazine articles and finally into my first published story, "Measure of a Man," in the Tyndale/HeartQuest, Chance Encounters of the Heart anthology.

I grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. My favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota - it's where I met my husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living. The north woods easily became the foundation for my first series, The Deep Haven series based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. I have to admit - I'm terribly jealous of Mona, the heroine of my first full-length book, Happily Ever After, a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.

Our family moved home from the mission field in June 2004 -- and now we live in the beautiful town I'd always dreamed of! God has amazed me anew with His provision, and blessings -- and allowed me a season when I can write full time for Him.

I 'm delighted you've stopped in to visit. My hope is that you'll be blessed and encouraged by soul-stirring stories of regular people interacting with a God who loves them.

I'd love to hear from you! I love getting mail, especially from readers and I welcome your questions and comments. Write to me at susan@susanmaywarren.com. And, if you're interested, sign up for my newsletter, a quarterly sneak peek into upcoming releases and projects. Thank you for your interest and support.


Website:     
Twitter:  susanmaywarren



Sunday, 28 December 2014

Review: Fifty Mice by Daniel Pyne

What if a man is placed in the Federal Witness Protection Program against his will?
And doesn’t even know what he supposedly knows that merits a new name, a new identity, a new life?


Jay Johnson is an Average Joe, a thirty-something guy with a job in telephone sales, a regular pick-up basketball game, and a devoted girlfriend he seems ready to marry. But one weekday afternoon, he’s abducted on a Los Angeles Metro train, tranquilized, interrogated, and his paper trail obliterated. What did he see, what terrible crime—or criminal—is he keeping secret? It must be something awfully big. The trouble is, Jay has no clue.

Furious and helpless, and convinced that the government has made a colossal mistake, Jay is involuntarily relocated to a community on Catalina Island—which turns out to be inhabited mainly by other protected witnesses. Isolated in a world of strangers, Jay begins to realize that only way out is through the twisted maze of lies and unreliable memories swirling through his own mind. If he can locate—or invent—a repressed memory that might satisfy the Feds, maybe he can make it back to the mainland and his wonderful, even if monotonous, life.

Set in a noir contemporary L.A. and environs, Fifty Mice is a Hitchcockian thriller as surreal and mysterious as a Kafka nightmare. Chilling, paranoiac, and thoroughly original, it will have readers grasping to distinguish what is real and what only seems that way.


Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: December 30th 2014 by Blue Rider Press 
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

After reading the synopsis I was really excited to dive into this book. It sounded like it would be an edge of your seat, high paced and thrilling story.

It is hard to describe how I felt when I began reading. Only one word comes to mind that comes close and that was...BORED. I found it incredibly slow and the characters extremely shallow and contemplated giving up on it. As I try to be a "glass half full" kind of girl, I refused to give up on it, thinking that it had to improve. A few early reviews were very positive so I convinced myself to power through it. It did improve as the story unfolded but only slightly.

The concept of the story is an interesting one but it just wasn't delivered to my liking. From the title of the book I expected some references to mice but the never ending rambling, facts and stories about mice were way too much and did nothing but make my mind wander to more exciting things like folding my laundry and scrubbing my floor. The whole naked mermaid stripper thing was a bit much as well. I think if 90% of the mice references were taken out and the mermaid parts were changed to something more riveting and less ridiculous, the story would have had a chance.

It just wasn't my cup of tea...




About the Author
Daniel Pyne wanders restlessly between prose fiction and screenwriting. He is the author of two previous novels, Twentynine Palms ("Character is key in this deliciously edgy thriller... the surprises come fast and furious….[W]ith dialogue that sings and action that sizzles." -Kirkus starred review) and A Hole in the Ground Owned by a Liar (Los Angeles Magazine Critic's Choice). Among Pyne's film credits are the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, Pacific Heights, Any Given Sunday and Fracture. Pyne's television work spans from the seminal hipster cop show Miami Vice to the recent Fox series from J.J. Abrams, Alcatraz. Pyne has a BA from Stanford University, where he toiled in economics but studied writing under Stegner fellows Chuck Kinder and John L‟heureux; he has an MFA from UCLA's Graduate School of Film, where he periodically teaches a seminar in screenwriting. Born in Chicago, raised in Colorado, Pyne lives in Los Angeles and Santa Fe with his wife, dogs, cats, a lizard, and an extremely sullen box turtle his grown children left in their wake.

Connect with Daniel




Saturday, 27 December 2014

Review: Can't Always Get What You Want by Chelsey Krause


Sophie Richards has been looking forward to a much-needed girls’ night out: a Rolling Stones concert, a few drinks, a distraction from her grueling nursing shifts in acute care. But when her best friend bails, Sophie gets stuck with a blind date.

Although Brett Nicholson may be the hottest carpenter alive, and Sophie may technically be single, she isn’t exactly on the market. Six years ago she found The One. He was everything Sophie dreamed a man could be—and then she lost him. In an instant, her whole life changed, and she forgot all about happily ever after.

But as she gets to know Brett, Sophie starts to wonder about the future for the first time. With a broken heart still clouding her mind, jumping into a new relationship feels impossible. When she’s in his arms, walking away feels even harder. Now Sophie faces an impossible choice: living in the past or choosing love in the here and now.



ebook, 312 pages

Expected publication: January 13th 2015 by Loveswept

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Loveswept via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is January 13th 2015.

I really enjoyed this read as it was truly about falling in love.  Not only did I get to share the experience of Sophie falling in love once but twice in this story and both times I was swept away.  I watched Sophie fall in love with Aaron through flashback memories and again with Brett in real-time.  I brought me back to the time of butterflies in your stomach and silly daydreams about what could be.

The main theme of this story is learning to let go of the past in order to start living for the future.  Sophie was fortunate to have two amazing men in her life at two different times and they were both perfect.  I mean seriously, most people would like to meet one perfect person while she had two in her lifetime!  In order for Sophie to have a future with Brett she had to let go of her past with Aaron.

I have never been in a situation like Sophie so I do not know what it is like to lose the one you love and how hard it is to let go.  I felt that she was holding on too tight for the amount of time that had passed.  Maybe I am being a bit insensitive but I think it is really ok to love again after six years have passed.  Then again without this dilemma there really wouldn't have been a story.  Needless to say I was in Brett's corner the whole time.

Random things I liked about this story include
  • I loved the shout out to Canadian culture and it's fascination with Tim Horton's.  For any non Canadians out there it is really true.  We love our Tim Horton's.  While Starbucks is great, Timmies prices are a portion of Starbucks and it is as much a part of Canadian culture as Hockey is
  • Anytime a story takes place in a Canadian city or town I automatically feel like I can identify.  From the warm summers to snowy winters the story always feels a little more like home.
  • I loved Samira's parents. I can only hope that many years from now that my husband and I will be picking fights with each other to get each other worked up without actually fighting.  That kind of affection is priceless.
All in all this was a really nice love story.  If you like a little romance in your books than this is a good pick for you.
     


Friday, 26 December 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #55

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are...
 

(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
(Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.


Question of the Week: What books did you give other people this holiday season? - Suggested by Alison Can Read

 

We gave our Mom Morning Glory and Goodnight June both by Sarah Jio. She has enjoyed all of her other books so we thought they would be good choices for her. We also bought her a tablet so that we can introduce her to the world of e-books!

 

What books did you give other people?

 

That is our Feature and Follow Friday for this week! Comment down below if you're a new follower of ours with a link to your blog and we will make sure to follow you back. You can follow us via gfc, bloglovin, email, facebook and/or twitter. 

  

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Holiday Wishes!


Happy Holidays to all of our followers, bloggers, friends, authors, publishers and loved ones. May the season be filled with lots of laughter, good friends and family, great health and even greater books! 
What books did you get under the tree?

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Review: The Winter Sea by Di Morrissey

Escaping an unhappy marriage and an unsatisfactory job, Cassie Holloway moves to the little Australian coastal town of Whitby Point. There she meets the Aquino family, whose fishing business was founded by their ancestor, Giuseppe, an Italian immigrant, some ninety years before. Life for Cassie on the south west coast is sweet as she sets up a successful restaurant and falls in love with Giuseppe's great grandson Michael. But when the family patriarch dies, a devastating family secret is revealed which threatens to destroy her dreams. Cassie's future happiness now rests with her quest for the truth.

Paperback, 432 pages
Expected publication: December 30th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction


Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book tells two stories, one from the past and one in the present, that share a long buried connection. I really enjoy this type of story and trying to figure out what the connection or mystery may be.

The story begins in the past with Giuseppe (Joe) as he grows up in a poor little Italian fishing village. As he grows, he dreams of something more and decides to go to America to make money to send home to his family. A series of events occur that has him missing his passage to America and he ends up heading to Australia instead. It is his hope to break into the fishing industry and find work to support himself and his family back home.

Next we learn about Cassie (in the present) as she starts over after leaving her husband and job. She retreats to Whitby Point as she tries to figure out what she wants out of life. It is while here that a budding relationship begins with the great grandson of Giuseppe and she is introduced to the Aquino family. Just as things are starting to take shape in her life, she receives shocking news that threatens to unravel the happiness that she has just started to enjoy.

Morrissey pens the countryside and the fishing industry in a very thorough and descriptive light. She obviously knows a lot about these two things or has really done her research. I could easily picture the landscape and I was pulling in fish along with the Aquino family.

I adored Giuseppe's story. In fact, I was a little annoyed when it changed to Cassie's story because I wanted to know more about his life. If I were rating the book on his story alone it would be a solid 4 stars. I had a few issues with Cassie and the present day story. It started out really slow and it was long winded. I feel like half the pages could have been cut out to make it more effective. The dialogue was often choppy and awkward. If I were rating the book on her story alone it would only get 3 stars. It did improve towards the end but it took a long time to get there.

In the end I enjoyed the story and I am glad that I had the opportunity to read it.






About the Author

Di Morrissey (born 18 March 1948 in Wingham, New South Wales) is one of Australia's most popular female novelists. She grew up in the remote surrounds of Pittwater, north of Sydney, Australia.

Growing up she counted famous Australian actor Chips Rafferty as a close mentor and friend who helped provide for her and her mother after the death of her father as a child, sending them overseas to California to live with family.

In her later years, Di went on to become a journalist on London's Fleet Street, and worked for CBS in Honolulu, where she lived with her husband who was in the foreign service, and even had a small role in the series Hawaii Five-0, a guest role in season three, episode seven, 1970 starring as 'Alicia Anderson'.

After moving back to Australia, Di published her first book 'Heart of the Dreaming' which instantly became a bestseller. Since then Di has published another 17 bestsellers


Connect with Di

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.



Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: December 30th 2014 by Ballantine Books 
Genre: Magical Realism

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from Ballantine Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

The Dress Shop of Dreams is a very unique and different story. Etta and Cora are the two main characters but there are a wide range of people who's voices are heard on the pages who are all linked in one way or another. At first it can be a little confusing but it becomes very clear and effective as the story unfolds.

Etta's dress shop is special. Women don't choose the dresses, they choose the women. With an added little red stitch that Etta adds, magic happens. When I say magic I don't mean potions and spells or crazy and unrealistic magic. These dresses give the women awareness, self- confidence, self esteem and things like that. It is very subtle so readers who fear stories that are outside the norm need not fear or avoid this book. It is very well done.

The story is definitely one of love...lost, unrequited and new. Through all of the different voices there is a different kind of love present. If love is not your thing, there is also a mystery to be solved that I was not expecting. I wasn't entirely thrilled with the final outcome of that aspect but at the same time I guess I kind of understand it.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Originally it was the synopsis that attracted me to it but I thought it could go either way. Magical realism is a hard genre to nail but if done right can be great and if done wrong can be just plain bad. I am happy to report that this book was done right and made for a quick, pleasant and enjoyable read.




About the Author
Menna van Praag was born in Cambridge, England and studied Modern History at Oxford University. Her first novella - an autobiographical tale about a waitress who aspires to be a writer - Men, Money & Chocolate has been translated into 26 languages. Her first work of literary fiction, The House at the End of Hope Street, was inspired by an idea the author had to set up a house for female artists to give them a year to fulfil their artistic ambitions. Her next novel, The Dress Shop of Dreams, is set on the magical street of All Saints Passage where a scientist falls in love with a mysterious man who has a magical voice. All Menna van Praag's novels, excepting Happier Than She's Ever Been, are set among the colleges, cafes and bookshops of Cambridge, England.

Connect with Menna


Monday, 22 December 2014

Review: After Us by Amber Hart


Sometimes secrets kill. Maybe slowly, maybe painfully. Maybe all at once.

Melissa smiles. She flirts. She jokes. But she never shows her scars. Eight months after tragedy ripped her from her closest friend, Melissa is broken. Plagued by grief, rage, and the painful memory of a single forbidden kiss.

Javier has scars of his own. Life in the States was supposed to be a new beginning, but a boy obsessed by vengeance has no time for the American dream. To honor his familia, Javier joins the gang who set up his cousin, Diego. The entrance price is blood. Death is the only escape.

Two broken souls could make each other whole again—or be shattered forever.

Our time will come. And we'll be ready



Paperback, 368 pages

Expected publication: December 30th 2014 by K-Teen


Terri's Thoughts


I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Kensington via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!  The expected publication date is December 30th 2014.
I did not realize that this was the second book in a series when I requested it.  Although I was able to read this as a stand alone there were many unanswered questions I had throughout the story.  Luckily they were answered as the story progressed.  That being said I recommend reading the first book Before You first as I think it would assist with the flow of this story.
This is the type of story you are looking for when a want a YA love story about two people who can not be whole without each other.  Although there appeared to be no lead up to the attraction I believe some of the ground work may have been laid out in the first book.  Two broken souls who come together to heal each other.
There is no other way to describe this other than a love story.  Both Melissa and Javier had their own issues to deal with however they were unable to keep their walls up with each other.  Those who enjoy reading about young love will enjoy the fact that the air literally changed when the two of them were together.  The chemistry was evident and again would have been more evident if I had read the first book.  It is the type of attraction that every teenage girl dreams of having...well except maybe for the baggage that comes with it.
At the risk of sounding overly critical there are a couple of points that did not add up for me.  This could be the part of me that can no longer check off the YA demographic when filling out surveys.  The first is the geographical setting of the story.  This confused me a little bit.  Melissa worked at a club on the beach and it was noted that it was 20 minutes from her home.  It then went on to note that the gang Javier was mixed up with was located in Orlando.  The last time I checked it took more than 20 minutes to get to the beach from Orlando.  Perhaps I missed something in the location.
The second point is the way Javier spoke.  I understand that it was emphasizing the fact that he was from Cuba but did he always have to make comments like "mi mama"?  I got old rather quickly and seemed like a little bit of overkill.  I think the backstory about his mother not allowing him to date "gringo's" was enough to establish his heritage.
Overall this story was exactly as advertised.  I want a YA read that had a lot of romance with a story to go along with it.  That is what I got.  I feel this will resonate the most with teenaged girls due to the love story between Melissa and Javier.  I am glad I had the opportunity to read this.  I only recommend that you start with the first book and then pick this one up.


About the Author



Sunday, 21 December 2014

Review: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

From the author of the international bestseller The Sweetness of Forgetting, named one of the Best Books of Summer 2012 by Marie Claire magazine, comes a captivating novel about the struggle to overcome the past when our memories refuse to be forgotten.

In this richly told story where Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You, Kristin Harmel weaves a heart-wrenching tale that asks: what does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?

After her husband's sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she's planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn't she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she's really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband's hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.


Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Expected publication: December 30th 2014 by Gallery Books 
Genre: Womens Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from the publishe via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book was absolutely stunning. I don't think there was a single emotion that I didn't feel while reading it. The pages were filled with love, loss, guilt, hope and the struggle to move on, told in a beautiful and heart wrenching way.

Kate lost her husband after just a few months of marriage and twelve years later she has agreed to marry her boyfriend of two years. It is after she says yes that she begins to have vivid dreams of her late husband and the family that they never got the chance to have. These dreams lead her to some new challenges and experiences but leave her confused and lost.

Ultimately this book is about figuring out how to move on and discovering how events in life directly impact the path you choose. It is beautifully honest in how it portrays grief. I was with Kate every step of the way and could feel every emotion and struggle she had. The story and writing was so powerful that I felt like I was Kate and I went through a roller coaster of emotions throughout. Even the supporting characters were portrayed in a realistic light from their support to their lack of understanding and their somewhat inappropriate comments at times.

This book is a journey and it doesn't deal with light and fluffy topics. I don't recommend this for people looking for a fun and quick read. If you are a fan of deep and emotional stories that are told honestly and realistically, you will not be disappointed. It is a truly wonderful story.






About the Author
 In addition to writing books (including ITALIAN FOR BEGINNERS and the YA novel AFTER), I've also been a magazine writer for years; my credits include People, Men's Health, Woman's Day, American Baby and dozens more. I also appear regularly on the nationally syndicated TV morning show The Daily Buzz!

I love to travel, cook, correspond with readers and create! :-) I've lived in Paris, New York, LA and a handful of other places, and now I live in Orlando, Fla. (From Goodreads profile)

Connect with Kristin




Saturday, 20 December 2014

Review: Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel by Priya Parmar


London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.

Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf’s book review has just been turned down by The Times. Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.

But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa’s constant attention and encouragement. Without it, she careens toward self-destruction and madness. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.

The work of exciting young newcomer Priya Parmar, Vanessa and Her Sister exquisitely captures the champagne-heady days of prewar London and the extraordinary lives of sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.



Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: December 30th 2014 by Ballantine Books
Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is December 30th 2014.

I hesitate to pen my thoughts on this story.  I always wonder if I am being harsh or if I missed something when I am not particularly fond of a book that seems to be getting glowing reviews.  I just simply did not feel the love for this story.

The reason for my lack of enthusiasm is simply put the subject matter/characters of the book.  I did not find them interesting nor their lives and I found myself forcing my way through the story.  Vanessa was simply boring to me as was her family and friends.  They were not enough to sustain the book. 

It is a shame because I did like the concept of the story.  The way Parmar captured her story through diary entries, letters & travel tickets was very interesting.  I found this allowed you to read as little or as much as you wanted to in one shot without losing any impact.  I also found her writing enjoyable and easy to follow.

In summary I felt this was a well written story and I believe Parmar has a lot of promise however the characters in this book were too dull for me to care about them.  The good news is I seem to be in the minority on this one. I would not let this dissuade me from reading other works of Parmar.
About the Author

Educated at Mount Holyoke College, the University of Oxford and the University of Edinburgh, Priya Parmar is the author of one previous novel, Exit the Actress.

Her new novel, VANESSA AND HER SISTER will be published by Ballantine/Random House on 12/30/14.

She divides her time between Hawaii and London.


Friday, 19 December 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #54





Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are...
 

(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
(Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.



Question of the Week: Do you have a go to genre when you're happy, sad, or angry? - Suggested by Take Me Away...

 

If I do have a go to genre for my different moods then I am not aware of it. I can read just about anything at any time, although if I am in a bad mood and my book is not good it can sometimes make my mood worse.

 

How about you? Do you have a go to genre for your different moods?

 

That is our Feature and Follow Friday for this week! Comment down below if you're a new follower of ours with a link to your blog and we will make sure to follow you back. You can follow us via gfc, bloglovin, email, facebook and/or twitter. 



Thursday, 18 December 2014

Review: Hidden by Donna Jo Napoli

A young girl must learn to survive and find her family against all odds in this heartbreaking companion to Hush from award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli.

Lost at sea when her sister is taken captive on a marauding slave ship, Brigid is far removed from the only life she knew as a princess and the pampered daughter of an Irish king.

Now Brigid has few choices. Alone and abandoned, she disguises herself as a boy and vows to find her innocent sister taken into slavery. Through her search many years pass and she grows from being a child to a woman, tough Brigid does not give up. She lives from the land, meets friend and foe along the way, and gains a reputation as a woman thought to be fierce enough to conquer men. It is not fierceness that guides her but the love of isster and the longing for her family to be united. One day she finds her way, knowing that her only real power comes from within herself.



Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication: December 30th 2014 by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 
Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

I really struggled with this book. It is geared towards the young adult audience so I tried to put myself in a younger frame of mind. I enjoy this genre so I didn't think it would be an issue. Unfortunately I had a hard time picturing young people reading and enjoying it. The story was painfully slow and written in such a way that I fear will not hold the attention of a young reader. Don't get me wrong...there are some interesting parts but there are also a lot of eye rolling parts as well. At the point where Brigid gets locked in the tower is where I contemplated giving up on the story but I powered through it. My opinion did not change. It just never grabbed me and I didn't feel the characters the way that I want to when reading a book.




About the Author
Donna Jo Napoli is both a linguist and a writer of children's and YA fiction.

Donna Jo has five children. She dreams of moving to the woods and becoming a naturalist. She loves to garden and bake bread.

At various times her house and yard have been filled with dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits. For thirteen years she had a cat named Taxi, and liked to go outside and call, "Taxi!" to make the neighbors wonder. But dear dear Taxi died in 2009.

She lives outside Philadelphia. She received her BA in mathematics in 1970 and her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures in 1973, both from Harvard University, then did a postdoctoral year in Linguistics at MIT. She has since taught linguistics at Smith College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgetown University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Swarthmore College. It was at UM that she earned tenure (in 1981) and became a full professor (in 1984). She has held visiting positions at the University of Queensland (Australia), the University of Geneva (Switzerland), and Capital Normal University of Beijing (China), as well as lectured at the University of Sydney (Australia), Macquarie University (Australia), the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), and the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa). In the area of linguistics she has authored five books (one of which is being translated into Korean), co-authored four (one of which is in Italian), edited one, and co-edited four (with a fifth in press), ranging from theoretical linguistics to practical matters in language structure and use, including matters of interest to d/Deaf people. She has held grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and the Sloan Foundation.


 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Review: Before I Go by Colleen Oakley


A heart-wrenching debut novel in the bestselling tradition of P.S. I Love You about a young woman with breast cancer who undertakes a mission to find a new wife for her husband before she passes away.

Twenty-seven-year-old Daisy already beat breast cancer three years ago. How can this be happening to her again?

On the eve of what was supposed to be a triumphant “Cancerversary” with her husband Jack to celebrate three years of being cancer-free, Daisy suffers a devastating blow: her doctor tells her that the cancer is back, but this time it’s an aggressive stage four diagnosis. She may have as few as four months left to live. Death is a frightening prospect—but not because she’s afraid for herself. She’s terrified of what will happen to her brilliant but otherwise charmingly helpless husband when she’s no longer there to take care of him. It’s this fear that keeps her up at night, until she stumbles on the solution: she has to find him another wife.

With a singular determination, Daisy scouts local parks and coffee shops and online dating sites looking for Jack’s perfect match. But the further she gets on her quest, the more she questions the sanity of her plan. As the thought of her husband with another woman becomes all too real, Daisy’s forced to decide what’s more important in the short amount of time she has left: her husband’s happiness—or her own?



Hardcover, 320 pages

Expected publication: January 6th 2015 by Gallery Books

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Gallery Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is January 6th, 2015.

What is one to say about a story that deals with someone who knows that they are going to die?  There isn't a lot you can say unless you are in the shoes that Daisy was.  This was a very sobering read yet I couldn't pull myself away from it.  It was a raw and emotional read.

I am not going to regurgitate the plot in this review.  I will talk about the emotions I went through as I read this story.  The main question I kept asking myself was what would I do if I were in Daisy's shoes.  I found myself arguing with myself in my head.  Luckily my husband didn't catch any of these inner arguments.  I kept telling myself I would not react as Daisy did, that I would reach out to my loved ones and cherish every moment I had.  Then I thought about it further and realized that her reaction was probably very realistic.  Learning to ask or accept help can be something that is difficult to do and I know I would struggle with that.  The thought of losing independence is a scary one.

One thing I know I would not be doing is looking for another wife for my husband.  I am not that selfless and I would want to spend every moment with him.  I honestly think that imagining him with someone else would completely undo me.  You have to read the story to see how Daisy deals with it.

I want to thank Oakley for writing a story that made me be inside my own head as much as it was on this book.  Anytime a story makes me think I know it is one to remember

This is a serious book about a tragic disease.  If light and fluffy is your thing then look elsewhere.  If you can handle a well written emotional story that makes you think then I say pick this book up now.  You won't regret it.

On a side note...there was mention in the story that Golden Retrievers have a higher than average (60%) chance of getting Cancer.  I really hope Oakley was taking liberties with the facts on this as I had mine curled up with me the entire time I was reading this book :-(




About the Author


Colleen Oakley's articles, essays, and interviews have been featured in The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Redbook and Martha Stewart Weddings. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, two painfully cute kids and a huge lapdog named Bailey. Before I Go is her debut novel.
Website:     
Twitter:  OakleyColleen
    

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.


Hardcover, 384 pages

Expected publication: January 6th 2015 by Knopf



Terri's Thoughts


I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Knopf via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  THANK YOU!  The expected publication date is January 6th 2014.

I have to be honest that I was skeptical about this read before starting it.  The blurb compares it to some heavy weight books by heavy weight authors in this genre who have had a lot of media attention in the last year.  I felt that this could be a disservice to the book as it would raise expectations that may be hard to meet.  Needless to say that there was no fear in that as I absolutely adored this book (although I stand by my thoughts about the risk of comparing it to other blockbuster books).

No matter what I write down on this page I will not be able to do this story justice.  I will not capture the humour, the love, the emotions or the tears so I wont try.  Instead you are stuck with my measly attempt to form some kind of thought.  Here goes nothing....

Every so often a character comes along that you just fall in love with.  While you can't completely pinpoint the reason why, you just know that this character will stick with you and you will remember them long after you have moved on to the next 500 books and characters.  This was Finch for me.  His seize the day attitude had me from the very beginning when he spoke his first words to Violet.  Although he was dealing with some very dark issues his approach to life was completely refreshing.  How he said what he wanted, acted the way he wanted and continually reinvented himself was so overwhelmingly charming that I found myself constantly smiling.  His attributes that resulted in him being labeled as a "freak" are the same ones I repeatedly fell in love with. He has made my top five list of all time favorite book characters.

Although not as charismatic as Finch, Violet held her own in the story.  She was essentially a nice girl who was drowning in grief and needed to find her way again.  The way she never looked at Finch with the same eyes that her friends did was endearing.

Put these two together and I was lost.  The concept of them "wandering" for a school project was as unique as the characters.  With Finch's outlook of living for today their adventures were amusing and heart warming.  Their exchanges on Facebook were relevant with today's times and the messages completely sweet.

I will stop here.  I think you get the picture as I seem to be gushing a little bit here.  To me this is one of the best YA books that I have had the luxury to read.  I laughed out loud in one moment and shed tears like a blubbering idiot in another.  This was simply a beautiful story about two people dealing with dark issues who ultimately save each other.  I say just go out and read it now.

On a side note:  My fifteen year old niece usually recommends to me what novel to read in this genre.  This time I get to recommend one to her that I know she will love and will resonate with her demographic.  I predict great things with this novel.  I see it is already slated to become a movie...I am not surprised.

About the Author     

From her Goodreads profile

By the time I was ten, I had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson ("If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win"), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which I illustrated myself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder's sister entitled Blindness Strikes Mary, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring me as the main character (an internationally famous rock star detective), and a partially finished novel about Vietnam. I was also an excellent speller from a very early age.

In 2000, I started writing full-time, and I haven't stopped... I've written eight books (two of those are forthcoming), and when I'm not working on the ninth, I'm contributing to my web magazine, Germ (www.germmagazine.com), thinking up new books, and dabbling in TV. I am always writing.


Website: 
Twitter:  Jennifer Niven