Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Review: Future Perfect by Jen Larson


Every year on her birthday, Ashley Perkins gets a card from her grandmother—a card that always contains a promise: lose enough weight, and I will buy your happiness.

Ashley doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the way she looks, but no amount of arguing can persuade her grandmother that “fat” isn’t a dirty word—that Ashley is happy with her life, and her body, as it is.
But Ashley wasn’t counting on having her dreams served up on a silver platter at her latest birthday party. She falters when Grandmother offers the one thing she’s always wanted: tuition to attend Harvard University—in exchange for undergoing weight loss surgery.

As Ashley grapples with the choice that little white card has given her, she feels pressured by her friends, her family, even administrators at school. But what’s a girl to do when the reflection in her mirror seems to bother everyone but her?

Through her indecisions and doubts, Ashley’s story is a liberating one—a tale of one girl, who knows that weight is just a number, and that no one is completely perfect.


Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Expected publication: October 6th 2015 by HarperTeen

Terri's Thoughts

**I received and advanced copy of this book from the publisher HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!  The expected publication date is October 6th 2015**

This story was just alright for me.  I expected it to be so much more than it was.

Pretty much every character in this story was messed up in one way or another.  Ashley who says she is confident with the package she is in struggle the entire story with said package, Laura struggling with knowing who she was and what she wanted to do and Jolene struggling with her transition.  While it is common for people of this age to struggle with their identities I am not sure there is a group of friends with such drastic struggles.

Where I struggled the most is I didn't really take a message away with me from this story or Ashley's journey.  She was confident in being big, she was not confident, she was?  How did her journey empower her etc. 

While there is a message of acceptance hidden within the pages I did invest myself in Ashley and her struggle.  I just really wish I liked her more.  Overall an OK read.



About the Author


Jen Larsen is the author of Future Perfect and Stranger Here: How Weight Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed With My Head. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco and currently lives in Madison, WI. Find her at jenlarsen.net.
Website
Twitter




Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Review: The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt

July 1940. 11 year-old Lydia walks through a village in rural Suffolk on a baking hot day. She is wearing a gas mask. The shops and houses are empty, windows boarded up and sandbags green with mildew, the village seemingly deserted. Leaving it behind, she strikes off down a country lane through the salt marshes to a large Edwardian house - the house she grew up in. Lydia finds it empty too, the windows covered in black-out blinds. Her family are gone.

Late that night he comes, a soldier, gun in hand and heralding a full-blown German invasion. There are, he explains to her, certain rules she must now abide by. He won't hurt Lydia, but she cannot leave the house.

Is he telling the truth? What is he looking for? Why is he so familiar? And how does he already know Lydia's name?

Eerie, thrilling and piercingly sad, The Dynamite Room evokes the great tradition of war classics yet achieves a strikingly original and contemporary resonance. Hypnotically compelling, it explores, in the most extreme of circumstances, the bonds we share that make us human.


Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Historical Fiction


Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.**

This book held a lot of potential. The synopsis was intriguing and the genre is one of my favourites. I couldn't wait to get lost in it.

But...

Although there wasn't anything horribly wrong with it, the story fell a little flat. It was really slow to get going and I found my mind wandering often. I wanted to know how everything would tie together but not in an anticipation type of way. It was more like an "I'm bored" kind of way.

However, I do see quite a bit of potential with this author. The Dynamite Room was his debut novel and as debuts go it was a solid effort. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it.





About the Author

Jason Hewitt was born in Oxford and lives in London. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and English and an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University.

After completing his degree he spent a number of years working in a bookshop in Oxford before moving into the publishing industry.

His debut novel, The Dynamite Room, published in the UK & Commonwealth in 2014, and in the US/Canada in March 2015. It will also be translated into French in Autumn 2015. His new novel, Devastation Road, will publish in the UK this summer.

He is also a playwright and actor. His first full-length play, Claustrophobia, premiered at Edinburgh Fringe in August 2014 and was also previewed at the St James Theatre, London.

As an actor he has performed major roles in a number of plays including Pericles, A Christmas Carol, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, The Merchant of Venice and King Lear (directed by Sir Jonathan Miller).

Jason is currently writer-in-residence at Abingdon School, Oxfordshire.


Connect with Jason

 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Review: Copygirl by Anna Mitchael & Michelle Sassa


o. You want to work in advertising. The glitz, the glamour, the cocktail-fueled brainstorming sessions and Xbox breaks. Sounds like a dream job, right?

Wrong. The reality can be a nightmare. There are five simple rules for succeeding in the ad world—and I think I’ve already broken every single one…

1) Never let them see you cry. Even if your best friend breaks your heart. And posts it all over social media.

2) Be one of the boys. And, if you were born with the wrong equipment, flaunt what you've got to distract them while you get ahead.

3) Come up with the perfect pitch in an instant—or have your resumé ready to go at all times.

4) Trust no one. Seriously. If you don't watch your back, they'll steal your ideas, your pride, even your stapler.

5) Most importantly, don’t ever, under any circumstances, be a CopyGirl.

Trust me. I know…


Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: October 6th 2015 by Berkley  
 
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 October 6, 2015**

This story started out slow for me however I warmed up to it at about the halfway point and was onboard to the finish line.  While not a story to take too seriously it played out like rom-com movie.  You know the type, girl likes boy & boy has girl stuck in the friend zone.  Girl trying to make it on her own in the big city etc etc..

While the idea of Copy girl was a little weird at first as I was essentially reading about a girl playing with dolls, it grew on me.  the minute it grew on me was when "copygirl" started to grow a backbone and stand up for herself.  At this point the story starts to take on a really good message.  One that I think is important for all women.  Don't be a copygirl!

Overall a pleasant read with a few laughs and a good message.

 
 
About the Authors
 
 Anna Mitchael is a Louisiana-born author who now lives and writes on a ranch in Texas. She is the author of Copygirl, Rooster Stories and Just Don't Call Me Ma'am. For five years she has been a columnist about the country life for Wacoan magazine.
 
 
  Michelle Sassa began her writing career as an advertising copywriter in NYC, penning memorable TV commercials for brands like Coca-Cola, Reebok and New York Road Runners. Her first book, Copygirl, is available for pre-order now, and will be released by Penguin this October. Michelle's favorite tagline is 'Just Do It.' Those are also the words she lives by. 
 
 
 


Saturday, 26 September 2015

Review: We'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean


Murder.

Fire.

Revenge.

That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.


Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: October 6th 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
 
Terri's Thought

**I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is October 6th 2015**

I was intrigued about the concept of this story as being a twin I enjoy reading anything that features twins in it.  Also, I have a rather odd fascination with stories centralized around mental hospitals.  There are so many possibilities with the direction a story can take.

While I was able to figure out where the plot was going to take me right from the get go I was still invested in how it would take me there.  With Alice struggling to remember what happened and battling her need for revenge it made for an interesting story.

I can't go too much in to the plot as it would reveal some spoilers so I won't.  I will just say that I enjoyed this story and the emotional battle that Alice was going through.  I also liked the supporting character of Chase who assisted Alice to figure things out.

This is a good story for the YA audience that is just a little different than the usual stories filling the shelves these days.  I would recommend

 
 
About the Author
 


Thursday, 24 September 2015

Review: Doing it for Love by Cassie Mae

Cassie Mae’s charming, sexy new novel, perfect for fans of Emma Chase, puts a steamy twist on modern love as one bride-to-be tries to put the spark back in the bedroom—by any means necessary.

Elizabeth Fanning’s life looks pretty perfect, judging by the diamond ring on her finger. Her fiancé, Landon, is sweet, handsome, and hilarious. The trouble is, before they’ve even tied the knot, their sex life has gone from mind-blowing to “meh”—and Liz isn’t ready to be part of an old married couple. After a cathartic call to her best friend, Liz comes up with a brilliant idea. She and Landon may never be able to re-create the magic of their first time, but how amazing would their wedding night be if everything below the neck was off-limits until then?

Liz thinks it’ll bring them closer together. Landon’s convinced she’ll cave first. So they raise the stakes: Whoever lasts longer gets to pick their honeymoon destination. With her heart set on the Bahamas and Landon fighting for snowbound Utah, Liz simply has to win. But pretty soon, her body is screaming for attention, and Landon’s never seemed so far away. Has Liz’s experiment backfired? Losing their little competition would be frustrating—but the one thing she can’t afford to lose is him.



ebook, 282 pages
Expected publication: September 29th 2015 by Loveswept 
Series: All About Love #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance/New Adult

Kristine's Thought:

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

Before I start writing down my thoughts on this book I feel the need to mention the dedication. I would like to personally thank Cassie Mae for dedicating this book to me!

"Dedicated to anyone who is married to someone who leaves their socks on the floor, and you love them anyway."


Doing it for Love is a humorous story about a young couple as they approach the next step in their relationship. Liz thinks that her sex life with Landon is too "peas and carrots" and that it already looks like an old married couple. She thinks that if they refrain for the five months until their wedding night that it will be wild and crazy like when they first got together. With both of them wanting different locations for the honeymoon they make a bet to see who will cave first.

Taking out the physical aspect of the relationship, both become more hyper aware of each other and everything else. Although the anticipation puts an extra spark in their relationship it also brings forward insecurities and complications that they were not expecting.

This book is really about the emotions and fears involved in taking the next step but told in a humorous way. It has them questioning if they are ready and responsible enough to take on forever. There are numerous laugh out loud moments and comments throughout the book that make it different from other love stories. Both Liz and Landon are quirky and hilarious in the way they interact with each other.

I found myself really enjoying this book and relating to it in many ways. My husband and I were roughly the same age as Liz and Landon when we got married and I got it. I thought the two of them were cute together and I loved the banter between them. Liz did get on my nerves a couple of times but I think that may have been intentional on the part of the author. The reader did need to see her bridezilla side after all.

I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series and I hope it is as funny as this one!

 


About the Author
Cassie Mae (who dons the name Becca Ann on occasion) is the author of a few hundred… okay, maybe not that many… books. Some of which became popular for their quirky titles, characters, and stories. She likes writing about nerds, geeks, the awkward, the fluffy, the short, the shy, the loud, the fun.

Since publishing her bestselling debut, Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend, she has published and sold books to Random House, Swoon Romance, and Spencer Hill Press. She has a favorite of all her babies, but no, she won’t tell you what it is. (Mainly because it changes depending on the day.)

Along with writing, Cassie likes to binge watch Teen Wolf and The Big Bang Theory. She can quote Harry Potter lines quick as a whip. And she likes kissing her hubby, but only if his facial hair is trimmed. She also likes cheesecake to a very obsessive degree.

Connect with Cassie Mae
 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Review: Finding It (It Girls #2) by Leah Marie Brown


Anything can happen in a year! Unemployed, homeless, and left at the altar, Vivia Perpetua Grant could see her future as a flannel pajama wearing spinster—or worse, a bag lady shuffling around Golden Gate Park. But for a girl obsessed with rock music, Chinese take-out, and the color pink, misfortune is another word for opportunity. Vivia has found her niche as an international travel writer and the long-distance lover of Jean-Luc de Caumont, an über-hot French literature professor and competitive cyclist.

Still, even with so much going right, Vivia can’t help but wonder if something isn’t missing. The long distance thing is taking its toll on a girl who didn’t have that many tokens to begin with. And fate seems to be tempting her at every turn, first with a hunky Scottish helicopter pilot, and then with a British celebrity bad boy... Will Vivia continue to keep it real or will she discover some old habits die hard?


Paperback
Expected publication: September 29th 2015 by Lyrical Shine

Terri's Thoughts

** I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is September 29th, 2015**

This is the second book in the IT Girls series and I was lucky enough to read the first story Faking It (review found here) and I loved it so I was really looking forward to this story to see where Vivia's adventures will take her next.  The first book was absolutely hilarious so I was anxious for Finding It

This story did not disappoint.  Vivia was still what I would term as a "hot mess" from beginning to end of the story.  This is part of her charm as she travels from one misadventure to the other.  It is so refreshing having a character who doesn't have it all together but is still interesting in her efforts to get it all together.  This stayed consistent with the first story.

While I believe it would be possible to read this as a stand alone I think it is much better served to read it in order.  The story will make a lot more sense and the investment in some of the characters will be greater.

While the general theme remains the same in the two stories, the pop culture references are turned up a notch in this story.  From the raunchy British leather clad comedian who was previously married to Kitty Kat to Tay Tay (Taylor Swift) references.  Anyone familiar with today's celebrities and pop culture will easily see the references to people whose names have only slightly been altered and some whose names were not.  It keeps the story current and can perhaps act as a time capsule twenty years from now.

While I found this story humorous I didn't find it held the same hilarious factor of the first story.  This could be that the first one caught me off guard while I knew what to expect with this one.    It just felt a little bit like a little more effort had to go in to making this one funny while the first one was effortless.  All the same it was still funny and entertaining.

I am so glad that I was introduced to this series.  While at its core it is a love story, the massive amounts of misadventure along the way make it surprising, refreshing and unique.  I am not sure if there will be more to the series however if there is I will be reading.  I'm just not sure how much more of a mess Vivia can make out of her life!





About the Author


(From Goodreads profile)

I am an American writer with a penchant for Paris and all things pink!

Before writing novels, I worked as a print journalist for a Pulitzer prize winning newspaper and served in the United States Air Force as a Radio and Television Broadcaster.

An avid traveler, I have had adventures and mishaps from London to Tokyo, which I write about on my blog, On Life, Love & Accidental Adventures, and in my contemporary romantic series, The It Girls.

I was once a collector of truly useless bric-a-brac and cheesy tee-shirts. My cheesiest? A tee with a cartoon Jesus riding a surf board and the words, "And on the eighth day, Jesus went surfing in Greece."

Today, I prefer to gather friendships and memories as travel souvenirs.

I live in the shadow of Pike's Peak Mountain, near Colorado Springs, with my family and shamefully pampered poodles.

In my free time, I like to watch movies, read, and snap photographs.


Website
Twitter



Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Review: The Heat of the Moment by Katie Rose

The Boys of Summer are back! In Katie Rose’s sweet, sparkling novel, the newest New Jersey Sonic falls for the woman who’s trying desperately to save his career.

Physical therapist Jessica Hart has learned her lesson: Never date professional athletes. She’s been down that road, and barely recovered after the relationship crashed and burned. Then Jessica meets Gavin King. An All-Star slugger with chiseled good looks, Gavin was traded to the Sonics because he hurt his knee sliding into second, and now his future is in her hands. Gavin’s no bad boy—but he’s tempting enough to make Jessica think twice about all her rules.

Gavin is trying to find a comfortable routine. If he wants his old life back, he must take it easy, stay out of the limelight, and keep his distance from gorgeous redheaded physical therapists. The thing is, Gavin isn’t the kind of guy to sit on his ass and let other people pull his weight. And when he sees something he wants, he can’t help but fight for it, even if it means risking everything, even if it only lasts a single moment: like one kiss from Jessica.


Kindle Edition
Expected publication: September 22nd 2015 by Loveswept 
Series: The Boys of Summer #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

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

The Heat of the Moment is the third book in The Boys of Summer series and the second one that I have read. I am not normally a fan of baseball but this series and the Sonic players have stolen my heart.

Gavin suffered from a knee injury and was traded to the Sonics because his team didn't like the 50/50 odds of him making a full recovery. The Sonics were like a demotion for him. They weren't real contenders and there were no bells and whistles. Even his girlfriend leaves him high and dry when he is no longer the golden boy. For him, it is all about ball, and he just wants to recover and get back in the game to prove he is worth taking a risk on. This is where he meets Jessica his new physical therapist.

Jessica isn't like most girls. She grew up in a family full of sports and brothers. She would rather be one of the guys than a girly girl. As the physical therapist for the Sonics she loves her job. She gets to go to work wearing yoga pants, oversized sweat shirts and hats. When Gavin walks in she instantly finds him attractive but he is a ball player. She's been there and done that and vows never to do it again.

Needless to say you can see where this is headed...

I really enjoyed both Gavin and Jessica. They were both trying to overcome insecurities. Gavin with his unknown future and Jessica with her self image. Her past relationship left her feeling like she was less than perfect and that she was not good enough. There was no way that Gavin could be interested in her when his last girlfriend was a swimsuit model.  Insecurities aside, there was no denying the attraction.

This book follows the typical formula. Even though there is an attraction there are reasons and excuses that keep them apart. I enjoyed reading their struggle and story and easily had the book finished in a day. Although this book is about Gavin and Jessica, the reader still gets to read about all of the great Sonic players and the pranks they love to indulge in. I think this series gets better with each book!




Check out my thoughts on Too Hot to Handle (The Boys of Summer #2) here.


About the Author
Award-winning historical author Katie Rose makes her contemporary debut with the Boys of Summer novels, Bring on the Heat and Too Hot to Handle, which combine Katie’s true loves: baseball and romance! When not watching baseball, Katie is at her lake house in New Jersey, hard at work on her next book.

**She is the bestselling author of twelve historical romance novels published under the names Colleen Quinn and Katie Rose .**


Connect with Katie





 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Review: The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev


Ria Parkar is Bollywood's favorite Ice Princess--beautiful, poised, and scandal-proof--until one impulsive act threatens to expose her destructive past. Traveling home to Chicago for her cousin's wedding offers a chance to diffuse the coming media storm and find solace in family, food, and outsized celebrations that are like one of her vibrant movies come to life. But it also means confronting Vikram Jathar.

Ria and Vikram spent childhood summers together, a world away from Ria's exclusive boarding school in Mumbai. Their friendship grew seamlessly into love--until Ria made a shattering decision. As far as Vikram is concerned, Ria sold her soul for stardom and it's taken him years to rebuild his life. But beneath his pent-up anger, their bond remains unchanged. And now, among those who know her best, Ria may find the courage to face the secrets she's been guarding for everyone else's benefit--and a chance to stop acting and start living.

Rich with details of modern Indian-American life, here is a warm, sexy, and witty story of love, family, and the difficult choices that arise in the name of both.


Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: September 29th 2015 by Kensington
 
Terri's Thoughts

** I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Kensington via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is September 29th 2015**

I must admit that I have a keen interest in the Indian culture after spending a period of time there a few years back for work.  When I saw this book I thought it would be interesting as it featured a blend of cultures.

This book did not disappoint as the story centered around a traditional Indian wedding celebration.  First of all, is there really that many days that make up a wedding?  and is the actual ceremony over four hours? I remember a co-worker advising me that they needed to take a couple of weeks vacation as it was wedding season and he had two cousins getting married, I didn't think to question it at the time.  I digress.

This book also delivered on the conflicted angst that is the star cross lovers who can not be together for a multitude of reasons that make sense only to the characters.  I liked how the reader catches pieces of the history of Ria and Vikram throughout the story to show us the history of their relationship.  That added to the drama and the tension between the two.

While I have to admit that Ria started to get on my nerves towards the end with her outlook on things it did not ruin the story for me.  I also found that it started to drag on towards the end when it probably could have wrapped up in 20 less pages.  Otherwise no complaints.

Ultimately a good love story with a little bit of culture mixed in!

 
 
About the Author
 

Sonali Dev’s first literary work was a play about mistaken identities performed at her neighborhood Diwali extravaganza in Mumbai. She was eight years old. Despite this early success, Sonali spent the next few decades getting degrees in architecture and written communication, migrating across the globe, and starting a family while writing for magazines and websites. With the advent of her first gray hair her mad love for telling stories returned full force, and she now combines it with her insights into Indian culture to conjure up stories that make a mad tangle with her life as supermom, domestic goddess, and world traveler.

Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog.


Website
Twitter





Sunday, 20 September 2015

Review: Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson

Odea Donahue has been able to travel through people’s dreams since she was six years old. Her mother taught her the three rules of walking: Never interfere. Never be seen. Never walk the same person’s dream more than once. Dea has never questioned her mother, not about the rules, not about the clocks or the mirrors, not about moving from place to place to be one step ahead of the unseen monsters that Dea’s mother is certain are right behind them.

Then a mysterious new boy, Connor, comes to town and Dea finally starts to feel normal. As Connor breaks down the walls that she’s had up for so long, he gets closer to learning her secret. For the first time she wonders if that’s so bad. But when Dea breaks the rules, the boundary between worlds begins to deteriorate. How can she know what’s real and what’s not?



Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: September 22nd 2015 by HarperTeen 
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult

Kristine's Thoughts:

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

The idea of this story was brilliant but the execution left a lot to be desired in my honest opinion. The synopsis had me really excited. This was not like any story I had read before. Dream walking held great potential for some unique story telling.

Odea was not like other kids. She could walk in other people's dreams. In fact, if she didn't she would get really sick. Everything was fine as long as she didn't break the rules. This had been her reality since she was six years old. She was also not like other kids because her mom was constantly moving them from place to place. Mirrors were not allowed in their house and it was filled with clocks.

Then Odea met Connor, who had secrets of his own, and everything changed. She broke the rules in order to walk in his dreams more than once. Strange things started happening and the her mother disappeared. Sounds exciting right?

Well....

It was actually kind of boring. The dreams, when Odea was actually in them (which wasn't often) were more than a little dull. There seamed to be an excruciatingly long built up to the dream world that fell more than a little short. The reader only got a brief glimpse of Odea's world and it was unfortunately not very exciting. It was all a little flat and anti-climatic. I found my mind wandering and was guilty of skimming a few pages.

The story had great potential but I felt like there were too many things that were not relevant to the story taking up pages. I also thought that there needed to be more "dream world" and that it needed to be a little more exciting in order to hold the readers interest. It wasn't a terrible book but it was just a little dull.





About the Author
Robert L. Anderson grew up in Brooklyn, where he once spent an entire summer mastering every level of the video game Doom. He graduated from college in 2004 with a degree in philosophy and an encyclopedic knowledge of the different ways to cook ramen noodles. Since then, he has lived in five states and twelve countries, and on three continents. He has returned to Brooklyn, but hasn’t kicked his video game addiction. Dreamland is his first novel.

Connect with Robert

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Review: Faceless by Alyssa B. Sheinmel


This emotionally gripping novel about a girl who gets a face transplant is Wonder for a YA audience.

When Maisie gets into a terrible accident, her face is partially destroyed. She's lucky enough to get a face transplant--but how do you live your life when you can't even recognize yourself anymore?

She was a runner, a girlfriend, a good student...a normal girl. Now all that has changed. As Maisie discovers how much her looks did--and didn't--shape her relationship to the world, she has to redefine her own identity, and figure out what "lucky" really means.

From Alyssa Sheinmel, the acclaimed author of Second Star, this is a lyrical and gripping novel that will challenge readers to think about how we create and define ourselves.


Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: September 29th 2015 by Scholastic Press
 
Terri's Thoughts

** I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Scholastic Press via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is September 29th, 2015**

What a compelling read about someone who is forced to learn who they are when everything they recognize about themselves is taken away.

This was not always the easiest of reads.  Sometimes I wanted to slap Maisie and tell her to smarten up.  Then I tried to put myself in her shoes and I think I can understand what she was going through.  I think that I would actually be worse and more negative than she was.

I feel like there was a good moral in these pages.  It is important to understand who you are when the face that you present to the world is no longer there to hide behind.  In the case of this story the face was literally no longer there however you catch what I am trying to say.

Not always the most optimistic or cheery reads it really did have an uplifting message.  I would recommend this story

 
 
About the Author
 

(From Goodreads profile)

I was born in Stanford, California, and even though I moved across the country to New York when I was six years old, I still think of myself as a California girl.

Like so many writers, I grew up loving books. I loved stories so much that when there was nothing to read, I wrote my own stories just to give myself something to read. And when there was no pen and paper to be had, I made up stories and acted them out by myself. I played all the parts, and I was never bored.
 
 
 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Review: Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

A haunting and luminous Gothic YA novel about reckoning with the ghosts of one's dark past.

After the untimely death of her aunt Laura, Cecilia Cross is forced to return to Sanctuary, a rambling, old French-Gothic mansion that crowns a remote island off the coast of Maine. Cecilia is both drawn to and repulsed by Sanctuary. The scent of the ocean intoxicates her, but she's also haunted by the ghosts of her past--of her father who died at Sanctuary five years ago, and of her mother who was committed soon after. The memories leave Cecilia feeling shaken, desperate to run away and forget her terrible family history.

But then a mysterious guest arrives at Sanctuary: Eli Bauer, a professor sent to examine Sanctuary's library. Cecilia is intrigued by this strange young man who seems so interested in her -- even more interested in her than in the books he is meant to be studying. Who is he and what does he want? Can Cecilia possibly trust her growing feelings for him? And can he help her make peace with her haunted, tragic past?



Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Expected publication: September 29th 2015 by Scholastic Press 
Genre: Young Adult/Gothic

Kristine's Thoughts:

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

This book had a little bit of everything. It was part ghost story, part mystery/suspense, part love story and part historical fiction. Although it seems like an odd and busy combination it actually worked quite well.

McKissack did a fabulous job in describing the setting of this book and Sanctuary. It was easy to visualise the Island and the old Gothic mansion. I felt like I was there and that I was a part of it. As the reader I was able to feel how eerie and creepy the mansion and graveyards were. I could feel the wind and the ocean right along with Cecilia.

This book tells a few stories. First is Cecilia's return to Sanctuary and her struggle to discover who she is and where she fit in. It also explores what first young love feels like. During this struggle it tells the haunting story of her father, Grandmother and sister who are all deceased and her mother who has been committed. Finally it tells the story of the ghosts that have been haunting the Island, mansion and Cecilia. These stories are all woven together in one mysterious and haunting package.

I really liked the ghost story and historical aspect of this story. In fact, I would have liked more of it. I already knew a bit about the Acadian history but it was interesting to read a story surrounding it. An entire story about this could have kept my interest alone. I also liked the sweet and squeaky clean budding relationship between Cecilia and Eli. It was sweet to read.

The book did start out quite slow and it took me a while to get into it. It was great once I got there but it took a while. While I found the historical aspect quite interesting, I do feel like younger readers may find it a little dull. I also found that the ending was a little anti-climatic as well.

Over all, I enjoyed this story and am glad that I had the opportunity to read it!





About the Author
Jennifer McKissack is the author of Sanctuary. She lives not too far from the sea.
  

Connect with Jennifer


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Review: Promises Kept by Scarlett Dunn


Lady of marriageable age with two young boys, in need of husband.

I am a good cook and hard worker.


Victoria Eastman grew up in a Texas saloon—an experience that made her tough, resourceful, and determined to forge a new life. So she places an ad in a gentleman's newspaper... and soon finds herself a suitable arrangement on a farm in Promise, Wyoming. Only problem is that her would-be husband turns up dead the day she arrives.

Rancher Colt McBride is known for his true grit and business smarts. Yet when it comes to his new neighbor, Victoria, he's stumped: Who is she, really? She's lovely to look at, of course, and has proven herself a gentle soul. She's even causing him to question his staunch bachelorhood. But any kind of future may be shattered when a stranger reveals a secret about Victoria's past—one that could destroy them both. Unless, together, they can take a leap of faith—right into each other's arms...


Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 25th 2015 by Zebra
 
Terri's Thoughts
 
I won a copy of this book as part of a giveaway on Goodreads in exchange for my honest opinion.
 
This will be short review.
 
Fans of romance will enjoy this story.  Fans of something a little different may not.  What this story delivered was a solid romance albeit rather predictable.  While this is not necessarily a bad thing sometimes you just want the story to stray from the usual formulas.
 
I like this story however I was not blown away
 
 
 
About the Author
 
 


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Review: In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower


In Certain Circles is the long-lost final novel by the internationally acclaimed author of The Watch Tower.

Zoe Howard is seventeen when her brother, Russell, introduces her to Stephen Quayle. Aloof and harsh, Stephen is unlike anyone she has ever met, a weird, irascible character out of some dense Russian novel. His sister, Anna, is shy and thoughtful, a little orphan.

Zoe and Russell, Stephen and Anna: they may come from different social worlds but all four will spend their lives moving in and out of each other's shadow.

Set amid the lush gardens and grand stone houses that line the north side of Sydney Harbour, In Certain Circles is an intense psychological drama about family and love, tyranny and freedom.

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Expcted Publication Date: September 15, 2015 by Text Publishing
Genre: Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

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

Try as I might, I could not get into this book. I found that it was all over the map. It was hard to distinguish who's voice was who's and the thoughts were so scattered it was frustrating. The fact that I did not like Zoe very much added to that.

 It required way too much work to get through this book. I found that I was nodding off and making excuses to put the book down. For someone who loves to read a wide range of books and genres for enjoyment and pleasure, I found this one lacking in both.

This book just wasn't for me...

 

About the Author
 
ELIZABETH HARROWER was born in Sydney in 1928. She lived in Newcastle until her family moved back to Sydney when she was eleven.
In 1951 Harrower travelled to London and began to write. Her first novel, DOWN IN THE CITY, was published there in 1957 and was followed by THE LONG PROSPECT a year later. In 1959 she returned to Sydney, where she worked in radio and then in publishing. Her third novel, THE CATHERINE WHEEL, appeared in 1960.
Harrower published THE WATCH TOWER in 1966. Four years later she finished a new novel, IN CERTAIN CIRCLES, but withdrew it from publication at the last moment, in 1971. It remained unpublished until 2014.
IN CERTAIN CIRCLES is Harrower’s final completed novel, though in the 1970s and 1980s she continued to write short fiction. She is one of the most important postwar Australian writers - admired by many of her contemporaries, including Patrick White and Christina Stead. Her novels are now being acclaimed by a new generation of readers and writers.




Monday, 14 September 2015

Review: Shifting Time by Kelly Seiler


In this entertaining and thought-provoking novel, a thirty-something woman wakes up one day to discover her long-lost love has come back to life. But is this new reality truly the answer to her heart’s desires?

Despite her great life in New York City as a prestigious book editor, Meade Peterson can’t shake the heartache of losing her high school sweetheart. Fifteen years after his death, she still thinks about all the things—love, family, happiness—she’ll never have, now that Daniel’s gone. That is, until a new man, Tanner, enters Meade’s life and brings her the kind of joy she hasn’t experienced in years. She’s torn, though, over whether she can bear giving her heart away again. Taking time to reflect, Meade returns to her hometown of Austin for what should be a relaxing visit—but instead, she becomes the victim of a violent crime.

Upon waking from her real-life Texas nightmare, Meade finds herself in another world where she doesn’t recognize anything, until she realizes the man in bed beside her isn’t a stranger—it’s Daniel. Meade has awakened into an alternate existence where Daniel is very much alive, and has been part of her life for the past fifteen years.

Meade can’t believe her good fortune—she’s finally experiencing the life she’s always wanted! Or is she? As Meade quickly learns, if one thing in your life changes, nothing else may stay the same. And now she’s forced to face the question: Is what she’s gained worth what she’s destined to lose?


Paperback, 432 pages
Expected publication: September 22nd 2015 by Infinite Words
 
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 September 22, 2015**

This story tackles the concept of "what if?"  We all have our what if questions.  What if I made this decision differently, what if I went to a different school for my education, what if we never had that fight?  and so on.

In the case of this story the question is what if Daniel had never died?  As the reader you do have to wait a bit before you get to that point as the story is approximately 50% in when the story takes you there.  In the meantime you learn the backstory.  You see the story of Meade and Daniel as teenagers and their young love.  You see how Daniel's illness impacts their relationship and of course you see the tragic end to his life.  What you also see is fifteen years later as Meade makes it on her own and the only thing she is missing is love as she promised she would love Daniel forever.

When the story takes us to the "what if" part and we see the relationship between Meade and Daniel you get to see how strong Meade grew as a person as a result of his death (in her other reality).  You also see that although love can be eternal that reality can alter it and it may not necessarily turn out as you always thought it would.

I shed a few tears while reading about Daniel's illness, something that is a little close to home at the moment.  I also had a few laughs.  Ultimately I found this to be a very good story that addresses the fact that we need to appreciate what we have in the here and now as tomorrow you may not have it.

I am glad I had the opportunity to read this one.

 
 
About the Author
 

A former high school English teacher and school counselor, Kelly Bennett Seiler has written articles for such websites as eHow and Livestrong, in addition to creating questions for nationally standardized exams. She’s been featured by Woman’s Day magazine, NPR and PBS and was on the cover of Military Spouse magazine. Kelly has edited numerous books, including a New York Times bestseller. She received both her Bachelor’s degree and her Master’s degree in English from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Shifting Time is her first novel. A native of New Jersey, Kelly currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three children.
 
 
 


Sunday, 13 September 2015

Review: What a Girl Wants by Lindsey Kelk

Tess Brookes was the girl with a plan. Now she's the girl with a choice. Should she stay in London and start her own advertising agency with her best friend and potential boyfriend Charlie? Or should she head to exciting Milan to pursue both a new career as a photographer and a new man, the enigmatic and elusive (and highly irritating) Nick? For the first time, Tess has to choose between the life she always dreamed of and a future she never imagined possible. With her heart and her head pulling her in different directions, Tess has to make a life-changing decision about What a Girl Wants.


Kindle Edition, 417 pages
Expected publication date: September 15,2015 by HarperCollins
Series: Tess Brookes/a.k.a "A Girl" #2
Genre: Womens Fiction/Chick Lit

Kristine's Thoughts:

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

Having read About a Girl, I was anxious to get into What a Girl Wants. Would Tess pick Charlie or Nick? Would she opt for advertising or photography? I couldn't wait to find out.

Let me start out by saying that I loved the over the top humour in the first book and was looking forward to more of the same in this one. Although it was definitely there, I didn't find it quite as funny. I did have laugh out loud moments but not as many as I enjoyed in About a Girl

Tess got on my nerves more than I would have liked. She was overly whiny, drunk and indecisive for the majority of the book. This did of course creative some laughable moments but it also created some head shaking and page skimming. Nick also lost some of his attractiveness for me as well. His arrogance was more pronounced and I wasn't so sure that I wanted Tess to pick him or Charlie if I'm being honest. 

I think the story would have been better served if it didn't drag on as long. It was just a little too many pages of indecision and it wore on me. However, if you are looking for an over the top and humorous series, this one definitely fits the bill.


 

About the Author
Lindsey Kelk began her career as a children’s book editor and columnist for Marie Claire before turning to writing where she has been charming readers with her witty, sharp, and fun novels ever since. Lindsey’s extremely successful I Heart series launched with the popular I Heart New York, followed by I Heart Hollywood, I Heart Paris, I Heart Vegas, I Heart London and I Heart Christmas. She is also the author of The Single Girl’s To-Do List and About a Girl, which introduced Tess Brookes. Lindsey has been published in 22 countries, and has sold over 1 million books worldwide.

Connect with Lindsey

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Review: Best Kept Secrets by Shelly Ellis


Between the fall-out from his father’s latest shady business dealings and his wife Clarisse’s alcoholism, Evan Murdoch has his hands full. But he should be most concerned about the scandalous affair Clarisse is having right under his nose—with his half-brother. Evan’s being pushed to the edge, and no one knows that better than Leila Hawkins…

Leila is back in Chesterton, divorced, penniless, and desperate enough to do anything to save her mother’s home from foreclosure—including turning to Evan, her former best friend. But Evan isn’t interested in friendship. Instead he makes Leila a shocking indecent proposal…

Meanwhile, Evan’s newlywed sister, Paulette, wants to be the perfect wife. But a blackmailing bad boy ex has reappeared in her life—and he’s threatening to reveal her most painful secret...

The scandals just won’t quit—and for everyone involved, desire, betrayal, and lies are all in a day’s work…


Paperback
Published by Kensington Publishing (first published August 25th 2015)

Terri's Thoughts

**I won a copy of this book as part of a giveaway on Goodreads**

I tried not to judge this story by it's cover but it was really difficult.  Let me tell you that the cover did little to entice me to want to read the story.  It's terrible.  I however try not to judge a book by its cover and entered with an open mind.

This story read to me like a late night soap opera.  Think Dallas in the 80's (although I was too young) where the characters have plenty of money and even more drama in their lives.  If you are a fan of these types of stories this one will be right up your ally.  It has all the stereo-types covered

There could be spoilers here depending on how you look at it..

Evan - the squeaky clean perfect heir to Murdoch business.  Tolerates more than he should in order to avoid any scandal to the family name

Clarisse - the extremely annoying self serving obnoxious drunk who also happens to be married to Evan

Dante - the evil brother who did not know he was a Murdoch as he grew up poor because his mother had an affair with Mr. Murdoch however the child was denied.  Only upon his death did Dante get accepted in to the family by the siblings however this was not enough for him.  He wanted to take over everything "Murdoch"

Leila - The girl who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks however was always Evan's true love.

Paulette - the gullible sister who would rather dig herself in to a hole than to admit her secrets so that she can be freed from them.

There are more characters but I| think you can get the drift.  Looks like the casting call for a pilot for the next soap opera doesn't it?

While at times I found myself engaged in the story, I found myself more often than not a little frustrated at all of the drama as it seemed a little over the top, unnecessary and unbelievable. 



About the Author


Shelly Ellis is a NAACP Image Award-nominated women's fiction/romance author and creator of the Gibbons Gold Digger series. Her fiction writing career began when she became one of four finalists in a First-Time Writers Contest when she was 19 years old. The prize was a publishing contract and having her first short-story romance appear in an anthology. She has since published five novels and has been chosen as a finalist for 2015 NAACP Image Award in the Literary Fiction Category, 2012 African American Literary Award in the romance category, and won a 2013 Angie Award.

She is married and lives in Prince George's County, Maryland with her husband and their daughter.


Website


Thursday, 10 September 2015

Review: Sarah's Surrender by Lavinia Kent

In Lavinia Kent’s scorching new eBook original novella, two wounded hearts find that only the sweet release of temptations long denied can heal the pain of past sins.

Five years ago, Miss Sarah Swilp had been deeply in love with Jonathan Perry, the second son of an earl. But when Jonathan inherited his aunt’s lands and money, he turned cold, demanding Sarah’s maidenhood and uttering those unforgettably cruel words: “You do know I won’t marry you.” She refused, of course, and that spoiled everything. Now, just as she’s agreed to a marriage of convenience, Jonathan reappears—and after Sarah gets one look at his lean, hard body, the embers of desire burst back into flame.

Over time, Jonathan has learned quite a bit about the art of pleasure—though nothing has ever given him so much joy as the husky timbre of Sarah’s laugh. It had hurt to leave her, but what other choice did he have? Perhaps he’d been too afraid of ending up like his brother, targeted by a woman seeking a title. Seeing her again, Jonathan can’t help wondering what might have been if only Sarah had surrendered to red-hot lust. Fortunately, judging by the wicked look in her eyes, it may not be too late to find out.


ebook, 96 pages
Expected publication: September 22nd 2015 by Loveswept 
Series: Bound and Determined 2.5
Genre: Erotica/Romance/Historical

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

At only 96 pages it is hard to say anything about this novella that the synopsis doesn't already say. Basically, in my opinion, the big story happens before this novella begins. I think I would have enjoyed a book that was completely about their past together. Sarah and Jonathan had a shared history that ended badly and when Sarah saw Jonathan five years later she wished to fulfill her fantasies with him before agreeing to marry a man that she did not love.

This novella is mostly about the two of them coming together at Madame Rouge's. What can I say other than it gets hot. I'm talking pages and pages of between the sheets, in the pillows, on the floor and in the chair hot and sexy action. Mixed in with all the pillow talk there was plenty of blame being thrown around over their past which did hinder my enjoyment ever so slightly. Accusations, name calling and general immaturity are not sexy qualities. Am I the only one that found it slightly odd that Sarah kept falling asleep?

In the end, Sarah's Surrender is a sweet and sexy, quick and easy novella that is sure to entertain. I have only read one other book in this series and both can be read as a stand alone. The common thread is Madame Rouge's.





About the Author
I live in Washington, DC with my husband, kids, two cats and a changing menagerie of other small beasts.

I worked in both the arts and in the business world before giving into my love of story telling after the birth of my oldest -- although it wasn't until after the birth of my youngest when I suddenly had full-time childcare that it all came together for me.

I love discussing books -- almost any books at any time.

One of my great joys is having my children get old enough that we can all read the same things and talk. I am so happy that YA is the flourishing world that it is.

And of course I love Romance. I started back with Kathleen Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsay and have never given them up since -- although there were a few slow spots along the way.

Connect with Lavinia



 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Review: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler


Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

This story—inspired by real events—from debut novelist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.


Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: September 22nd 2015 by Harper Teen
 

Terri's Thoughts

**I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Harper Teen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is September 22, 2015**

I really do not know what to say about this story.  The synopsis covers the plot however what I am struggling with is the emotions that I went through as a result of this story.  Add to the fact that this is based on a true story it gets me worked up even more.  I feel this review may be more of a rant than anything.

First and foremost I think that this story should be read in schools perhaps as part of the sex education curriculum.  The fact that it is written for the YA audience ensure that the message is delivered effectively to the audience.  What a way to get the message out about sexual assault, rape culture and moral obligations.  The target audience should be high school kids as just like in the book and real life, the events occur to high school ages children who attend parties with alcohol involved.  Speaking from experience there is always alcohol available no matter how much kids are sheltered.  Alas this will never happen as there is the too vocal camp that believes sheltering your children from reality and leaving them in ignorance is protecting them as opposed to empowering them to make wise and informed decisions....I digress

There was so much about this story that shocked me.  First that the assault was captured on camera, second that the folks who filmed it were stupid enough to post it online and third how an entire town turned against the victim and victim shamed her.  I was absolutely disgusted with everyone's behavior.  I can somewhat understand the behavior of the students (although I don't agree) as at that age everyone tends to have the pack mentality and can't see beyond what impacts them personally.  This does not make it right.  It was the actions of the adults that really shocked me.  The coach publicly shaming the victim and advising people to get rid of evidence.  So disgusting!

I could go on an on however I won't.  There are other reviews that outline the story and I think I made my feelings pretty clear.  I was left at the end with such a hollow feeling for the victim of this story and the victims of the real life events similar to this.  Too often society lays the blame on the wrong person/people and the ones who pay the price are the ones that were already a victim, hence become one twice over.  It absolutely disgusts me that we even have to discuss topics such as this in our society however until it stops happening we need to.  Hiding your head in the sand is just as bad as committing the offense and this is why I think this book would have a huge impact for the YA audience. 

As mentioned...more of a rant than a review but as you can tell the message came across to me loud and clear!

 
 
About the Author
 

Aaron Hartzler is the author of Rapture Practice (Little, Brown), a memoir about getting kicked out of his Christian high school two weeks before graduation. The New York Times called Rapture Practice "effervescent and moving, evocative and tender." It was also named one of Kirkus Reviews and Amazon's Best Books of 2013, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. His next book, a novel called What We Saw, will be published by HarperTeen on September 22, 2015. It's the story of a girl named Kate whose friend is assaulted by student athletes at a party, and how Kate navigates small town politics to find out what really happened. Aaron lives by the beach in Santa Monica with his two dogs, Charlie and Brahms

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