Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Dollar

          Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Dollar  
Release Date: September 24, 2013 
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's 
Source: Publisher via NetGalley 
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.
Review: 
Trish Doller’s debut Something Like Normal was a big hit when it was released. Everyone loved it but when I read it, I wasn’t as impressed. It was a good book; it just wasn’t the best book. I decided that I still wanted to read whatever else Trish Doller wrote next because she was a good writer. Where the Stars Still Shine, her sophomore novel, has once again been a hit with many people. For me, though, it wasn’t the most impressive book. I liked this book but certain issues bothered me. I will say this: everyone will like a book in a different way. Not everyone will love every book and these are not honest opinions.

Callie was a protagonist I both cared for and was annoyed with. Since she was taken away from her family by her mother from a young age and molested by her mother’s boyfriend. She isn’t used to being around loving family members and has always seen sex as something that was harmful and an act that she could find no pleasure in. I sympathized with Callie during this book but I was often bothered by her actions. For one (and to clarify: I have never gone through what Callie has and I understand that everyone will react to certain situations in many different ways), the way she treated her father seemed...inconsiderate. She was often upset with her father because he didn’t understand that she was not used to having him around and that it was a new situation for her. My initial reaction was that it was different for her father and the other members of the family as well. Maybe this is too picky of me but this did not work for me.

Another aspect, something I would have liked if it had been done a little different, is rather personal and I know people will defend that it was done well. Callie’s growth and the way she handled sex were interesting. Callie had been molested and never truly found pleasure in sex. Until, that is, she comes to the small town and meets Alex Kostas. The first time they meet, she is attracted to him but nothing physically happens between them. I was excited to see how their relationship would progress until they meet again for the second time and they hook up. But they had sex and I was instantly put off. Now I have NOTHING against people have sex and hooking up. You do what you want to do but it was hard for me to care for their relationship. It was sweet and heartbreaking but in the end, it didn’t do anything for me. It wasn’t insta-love in the most common sense but it wasn’t anything I found myself rooting for.

The writing, like with her first novel, was my favorite aspect of Where the Stars Still Shine. It was beautiful and poignant. Even though I was not as impressed with Callie or the romance, I love the way she wrote about the Greek community in the small town in Florida (since reading the book, I have forgotten the name). I loved reading about their history and the sponge industry of the town. To be honest, I was not aware that finish sponges could allow for a living so that was an interesting fact to learn.

Overall, I enjoyed Where the Stars Still Shine but I was not in love with this novel. Certain aspect did not work for me as a reader even though I really wanted to love this book. The romance seemed too much like an insta-love and I wasn’t as impressed with the handling of the issue with sex. I’m not sure if I will read any more of Trish Dollar’s books but maybe it’s too early for me to judge. We’ll just have to wait and see I guess.  
Recommendation:
I liked this book. I would have loved this this book but it's missing a few things. I would re-read this book if I wanted something good to read. I would recommend it to some people but with reservations.

In the end, I didn't love this book as much as I wanted to. There was just some aspects that did not work for me. I was highly disappointed that I didn't love this one but I still haven't given up on the author. If anything, this book allowed me to really re-think how I handle certain aspects of my life because I often find myself to not be as thankful for all of the wonderful experiences I've has the pleasure of being a part of. I think Trish Dollar has a lot to offer in the world of YA literature and I can't wait to read more!
Cover Comments: 
I actually love this cover. There's something so childlike about the girl dancing but thinking back to the book, I think that it fits really well. How many of have taken dancing fro granted?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Adult Review: In Your Dreams, Blue Heron #4 by Kristan Higgins

          In Your Dreams, Blue Heron #4 by Kristan Higgins 
Release Date: September 30, 2014 
Publisher: Harlequin
Source: NetGalley via Publisher 
Emmaline Neal needs a date. Just a date—someone to help her get through her ex-fiancé's wedding without losing her mind. But pickings are slim in Manningsport, New York, population 715. In fact, there's really only one option: local heartthrob Jack Holland. Everyone loves Jack, and he won't get the wrong idea…. After all, Jack Holland would never actually be interested in a woman like Em. Especially not with his beautiful ex-wife creeping around, angling to reunite ever since he rescued a group of teens and became a local hero.

But when the wedding festivities take an unexpectedly passionate turn, Em figures it was just one crazy night. Jack is too gorgeous, too popular, to ever end up with her. So why is she the one he can talk to about his deep, dark feelings? If Em is going to get her dream man, she'll have to start by believing in him…
Review: 
Sometimes, for a book to truly click with the reader, it takes a re-reading to find that relationship. Initially, I was ready to give this a low rating. There was something missing from this book that I hadn’t found in the other three books in this series. But after a few weeks, I re-read this book and I couldn’t help but like it far more the second time around. In Your Dreams is different then the other three books and I’ve realized why I didn’t love it the first time around.

When I initially read this book, I was so disappointed with the romance and the sexitimes because there didn’t seem to be enough of it. I wasn’t in love with Jack and Emmaline (I did like Jack and Emmaline as separate people, however) so I couldn’t care if they got together or not. But what I came to realize about In Your Dreams is that this is as much Jack’s story as it is Emmaline’s. In the last three books, all of the male leads had issues they had to overcome but with Jack, there were more then one misgivings he had to deal with. Jack himself had to change and grow as much as Emmaline did and while I didn’t see—or appreciate—this at first, I did the second time around. As much as the other characters helped each other, Jack and Emmaline had an understanding. They talked to each other; they told each other their problems and allowed the other to help.

Emmaline and Jack were both such similar yet such different characters. Emmaline’s shy and reserved and hasn’t lived in Manningsport her whole life. Jack is the nice giy everyone loves and knows; he’s very much a people person. When her ex-fiance sends a wedding card, Emmaline feels as though she has to go but doesn’t want to face her fears. Jack, as Emmaline’s date, is going to California to escape his problems. While neither wants to share what’s going on, they trust in each other and open up. They put their contrasting personalities aside and work to help each other. Their character growth, something I didn’t notice the first time around, was astounding.

Jack and Emmaline, unlike the other characters, were vulnerable from the beginning of this story so it was a reverse idea: we saw two vulnerable characters trust and believe in each other whereas the other characters were strong but grew to open up with others. There is just something about the way Kristin Higgins tells a story, both in terms of her writing and story telling ability, that makes me fall in love with her characters.

Overall, I didn’t love this book but I liked it far more the second time than the first time. I was able to step away from the other three stories in this series and see this new story for what it truly was. I ended up loving Jack and Emmaline and more then any couple, I wanted them to be together. Yes, this wasn’t my favorite book but my favorite couple. It happens.  
Recommendation:
I liked this book. I would have loved this this book but it's missing a few things. I would re-read this book if I wanted something good to read. I would recommend it to some people but with reservations. 

I liked this book a lot more the second time around and there's just something about this story...Maybe it's that both characters help each other with their issues and actually talk it through or maybe because they're such different characters who prove that opposites do attract. Either way, read this book. 
Cover Comments: 
WHAT A CUTE PUPPY. I WANT THE PUPPY. CAN I HAVE THE PUPPY?! Okay, the cover is all cheesy and stuff but guys THE PUPPY. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

NA Review: As Long as You Love Me, 2B Trilogy #2 by Ann Aguirre

 
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin 
Source: Publisher via Netgalley 
Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. She has her reasons - missing her family, losing her college scholarship. But then there's the reason Lauren can't admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend's older brother.

Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He's the guy who women love and leave, not the one who makes them think of forever - until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her.

Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.
Review: 
I liked the first book in this trilogy, I Want it That Way, but As Long as You Love Me was more of a rollercoaster ride for me and the end result was not pretty. I can’t quite pin what exactly about this relationship I didn’t like but something about Lauren and Rob bothered me. The writing wasn’t the most spectacular and the explicit sex scenes were once again present but something about their relationship bothered me the most.

I want to preface anything I say by pointing out that Lauren had feelings for Rob when she was a young girl and when she moves back home and sees him, the feelings are re-awakened. But Rob is dating a girl named Avery and therefore off limits to Lauren. The two begin getting close simply as friends but their physical attraction is still there. Lauren often wonders about Rob but keeps her hands off. I liked that they got to know who they were now as adults and I could see their relationship blossom. That is until I got to the point where Rob is single and they have sex for the first time. I came to this quote and I was instantly put off
“Before Rob, I’d used condoms, but I’d wanted him for so long that I hated the thought of stopping for latex.” (location 1907 of 3799, 50%)

Yes, Lauren is on the pill but it still irked me that they would take this chance. The pill does not always work. I know people (both married and not) who have had sex while on the pill and got pregnant. I get that Lauren’s in love with Rob and has waited a long time for him but using a condom seemed like a smart decision. This isn’t the biggest deal in the world but was the first thing I highlighted in this book.

Then we get to this gem:
“You don’t even have to touch me, baby. Before I broke up with Avery, you had me ready pretty much every single day.” (Location 1961 of 3799, 52%).
This made me so mad that I put the book (or my Kindle) down. I don’t condone cheating at all and this, regardless of what you might think, seemed like emotional cheating to me. Rob’s excuse for not breaking up with Avery at this point was that he didn’t want her to hear it over the phone but thinking about being with another woman over a course of about a week or two (can’t remember exactly) is a better idea. What?! And if that wasn’t enough, there was this interaction, during the same scene,
“‘So you were waiting for her to come home to do it in person?’ Rob nodded. ‘By then, I didn’t even care when she got back because all I could think about was seeing you again.’” (Location 1969 of 3799, 52%)
So not only did Rob think about another woman in a sexual way while he was still in a relationship, he didn’t even care about when his girlfriend came back…and I’m supposed to like this guy?

But I did. I did like Rob and after that moment, he got better. Or so I thought. Lauren did not have a car so she had been borrowing Rob’s for the good part of the begging of the novel. Later on, when she has saved up enough money to buy a car of her own, she does. She brings Rob’s truck back to him and shows his her new car. Rob loses it:
“I mean, you didn’t talk to me or ask me to inspect the car before you bought it. That’s the one thing I know about—fixing things. I can’t do a lot for you as a boyfriend, and it makes me feel like a worthless sack of shit when you cut me out” (Location 2274 of 3799, 60%).
This was frustrating to me on various levels: a) Lauren is an adult who can make adult decisions. She went with her mom and looked over other vehicles before choosing one, b) Why does Rob need to get upset over this? He is not her father and he doesn’t own her and c) Lauren’s supposed to show Rob all aspects of her life so he can feel validated? In my opinion, Lauren did nothing wrong to get this reaction out of him. This is simply a small portion of the big speech he gives her and I was instantly put off.

Besides the fact that I knew Rob and Lauren were going to break up and then make up, I wasn’t surprised when it happened. Rob, though, acted very much out of character but at this point in the book, I couldn’t have cared less. Overall, I wasn’t in love with this novel. While some aspects were great, the majority of it bothered me. Lauren was hands down the best part about this novel and Rob was the worst. I know a lot of other people loved these books but they weren’t for me.  
Recommendation:
Cover Comments: 
Again, what a boring cover. I like the color scheme but really, it's like so many of the other new adult books out there.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: Waiting On You (Blue Heron #3) by Kristan Higgins

           Waiting On You (Blue Heron #3) by Kristan Higgins 
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Does being nobody's fool mean that you're nobody's love?

Colleen O'Rourke is in love with love... just not when it comes to herself. Most nights, she can be found behind the bar at the Manningsport, New York, tavern she owns with her twin brother, doling out romantic advice to the lovelorn, mixing martinis and staying more or less happily single. See, ten years ago, Lucas Campbell, her first love, broke her heart... an experience Colleen doesn't want to have again, thanks. Since then, she's been happy with a fling here and there, some elite-level flirting and playing matchmaker to her friends.

But a family emergency has brought Lucas back to town, handsome as ever and still the only man who's ever been able to crack her defenses. Seems like maybe they've got some unfinished business waiting for them—but to find out, Colleen has to let her guard down, or risk losing a second chance with the only man she's ever loved.
Review: 
There are certain things people love to read about. Maybe it’s about summer love or a love blooming during a road trip but for me? It’s childhood romance. There’s just something so…innocent about young love that makes my heart flutter. Maybe it’s because when you’re love, you aren’t always emotionally hurt and you’re not in the big, scary world allowing the romance to blossom.

Colleen O’Rourke and Lucas Campbell were high school sweethearts but one day, Lucas broke Colleen’s heart. While she’s always tried to move on, there was something about that love that hindered Colleen’s ability to find true love for her. If you don’t already know, Colleen has a great track of getting people together but not for herself. She’s confident and sarcastic and loving and loud but underneath all of that is a girl aching for love, even if she won’t openly admit it. I loved Colleen because that’s how I am (sans the high school romance and broken heart) because I often hide my true feelings behind something else.

Lucas was such a sweetheart and I couldn’t help but fall for him. He’s had a rough past but was able to make the best out of it. Lucas had to grow up too fast so it was vastly more mature when he was younger than expected. I did, however, still feel as though some of his actions later on in the book were uncalled for. I can understand, also, that he still cares for Colleen but I felt his attitude that Colleen would be waiting for him a little bit…annoying. He didn’t always feel that way but when he did, I felt as though his ego go the better of him.

Some flashbacks allow the reader to see how Colleen and Lucas meet and fall in love and I loved every minute of it. Even the heartbreak was (heart wrenching) but important to read about because it helped give Colleen and Lucas more background (clearly). But there was something about their adult love that seemed off for me. Maybe because they were both adults and a lot had happened to both of them to change them in unexpected ways, but I didn’t feel as though the spark from their childhood came back. Maybe it was because they didn’t get enough time to work out their issues (a specific issue that happened with Colleen and a member of Lucas’s family that was blown way out of proportion and I didn’t like the way Lucas reacted), but I didn’t feel the spark.

Overall, I enjoyed Waiting on You for the most part but the romance felt a little bit off. Maybe because the love between these two characters already existed and it needed rekindling but I just couldn’t love it. In all honesty, I think it had to do with the fact that neither Colleen nor Lucas talked about their issues with each other. There were too many loose ends but I did enjoy reading it nonetheless.  
Recommendation:
I liked this book. I would have loved this this book but it's missing a few things. I would re-read this book if I wanted something good to read. I would recommend it to some people but with reservations. 

I absolutely loved Lucas in this book and even though the romance was a little lackluster, I enjoyed 
Cover Comments: 
WHAT'S UP WITH THIS COVER?!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Adult Review: The Perfect Match (Blue Heron #2) by Kristan Higgins

             The Perfect Match, Blue Heron #2 by Kristan Higgins
Release Date: December 1, 2013 
Publisher: Center Point, Harlequin 
Source: Library  
**This is the large print version!**
What if the perfect match is a perfect surprise? Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And now -- a mere three weeks later -- Mr. Perfect is engaged to her best friend. But resilient, reliable Honor is going to pick herself up, dust herself off and get back out there . . . or she would if dating in Manningsport, New York, population 715, wasn't easier said than done.
Review: 
The very first point I want to make with this review is that I am utterly happy that I did not read the Blue Heron books in the order they were published. These books can be read as standalones but being in a series, characters overlap. While I enjoyed The Best Man, the first book in this series, I did not enjoy The Perfect Match as much and had I read them in order, I don’t know if I would have continued on with this series. There was something missing from Honor Holland and Tom Barlow’s love story.

Admittedly the marriage for convenience plot is one I haven’t read that many books about but I was curious to see how this one would go. I knew certain events that would happen but their execution fell flat. For example, we all know that the main love interests will have some sort of disagreement but they won’t be able to stop thinking about the other person. Slowly, they begin to realize their love for one another. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and all that. In this case, I just didn’t care when Honor and Tom were apart. There wasn’t enough of a spark between these two characters.

I did, however, appreciate Tom and his loyalty to Charlie, his unofficial stepson. When so many people (did) would put aside a teenage boy, Tom stepped in. I loved seeing their relationship grow and develop into a father son love. It was also nice to see Charlie open up and allow others in. I should also mention that Tom is British and as I cannot help but love the accent, I couldn’t help but love Tom. There is more to Tom then just his accent; he’s broken and has shielded his heart from love. He was not expecting Honor and this idea made reading this book far more enjoyable. There are certain times when I wish he had acted differently but those are minor problem.

I didn’t think I would love Honor as much as I did but I had this connection with her that I didn’t expect. I’m not the most serious of my family but I am rather the black sheep who doesn’t let anyone faze me. Honor, the no-nonsense member of her family also seemed to have this trait and it changes when she tells the guy she likes how she feels. It’s Honor’s response after being rejected by this guy that showed me how similar we are: even if we’re hurting inside, our outside appearance is a neat and clean as any other day. Seeing Honor open up to Tom and allow herself the ability to love again was wonderful.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Certain aspects were annoying (Brogan and Dana; who lied about something rather big which made me dislike her even more then I did before), others were heart wrenching (I feel for ya Charlie!), but in the end, I didn’t feel as thought there was enough spark between Tom and Honor. This might be because they are both such serious characters and maybe if my timing had been different, I would have loved this book.  
Recommendation: 
I liked this book. I would have loved this book but it's missing a few things. I would re-read this book if I wanted something good to read. I would recommend it to some people but with reservations.

This isn't the best in the Blue Heron series by far but it is still a fantastic story and one I think everyone who loves Kristin Higgins books should read. I know many, many people who loved this book and all reading experiences are different for all people! 
**This book is a 3.5 but rounded up to a 4 on Goodreads.**
Cover Comments: 
The dog is the best (and cutest!) part of the cover. I don't hate the cover; it's just incredibly cheesy and doesn't stand out in the immense sea of adult romance novels. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Adult Review: The Best Man, Blue Heron #1 by Kristan Higgins

             The Best Man, Blue Heron #1 by Kristan Higgins
Release Date: June 1, 2013
Publisher: Center Point, Harlequin 
Source: Library  
**This is the large print version!**
Sometimes the best man is the one you least expect….

Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she's ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family's vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there's some great scenery there….

Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief - and best friend of her former fiancé. There's a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it's not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she's having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.
Review: 
The Best Man, Blue Heron #1 Before even considering reading this book, I read the 3rd and 4th books in this series and fell madly in love with Kristin Higgins. When Keertana told me that this was her favorite of the bunch, I knew I had to read the rest of the series. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Best Man but it wasn’t to read it in less then two hours. I basically flew through this book and I have to say, I absolutely loved Faith Holland and Levi Cooper. This book was a lot of fun, a little heartbreaking, and overall

While this book might seem as if it’s just a light, fun romance novel, there is much more to it then just that. For one, I did not expect to care for Faith Holland as much as I did. It’s one thing to be left at the altar but it’s another to not realize something that was apparent to everyone. Faith, though, left Manningsport broken and sad and came back a little stronger. While it’s evident to see the transformation Faith has gone through, I loved that she was still vulnerable. Seeing Levi Cooper brought back all sorts of feeling, some good while other bad, but seeing Faith struggle to accept and understand what happened made her seem so…real. She wasn’t perfect and her flaws allowed me to care about her.

There is just something about Levi Cooper. He’s the bad boy with a heart of gold but a little bit awkward also. You can’t help but fall in love with Levi and I sure as heck loved reading about him. Growing up poor and living in a trailer, Levi has always been accustomed to working hard for what he wants and needs. His attraction to Faith and his unwillingness to give in to his feeling resulted in many awkward and intense situations where the sexual chemistry was almost palpable. His obvious love for his younger sister made my heart leap; there’s just something so sexy about a man being emotional.

From the sounds of this review, I make The Best Man out to be a quick, light hearted read and while, yes, it is light and a quick read, there is a surprising amount of heart in this novel. Faith often has to deal with her seizures and her mom’s death, the later having a heavy effect on her life. The reader is able to see Faith’s inner turmoil regarding the situations and events of her life and it’s hard not to feel for her. On various occasions, I wanted to give her a big hug. Yet the most defining moment of this novel came near the ending where Levi immensely helped Faith move on from her guilt. That single event cemented my love for these two characters.

Overall, I loved The Best Man. I can’t decide yet if it’s my favorite of the bunch but I can see why so many people love this book. Kristin Higgins ability to take a boring, cliché idea and turn it into something more special and more original surprised me on many levels. In the end, I have decided that I can’t get enough of Kristin Higgins and the people of Manningsport, NY (as a side note, now I wanted to visit the Finger Lakes).  
Recommendation
Best Friends Forever
This book is pretty great but it’s missing something that would make it extremely special. I might re-read this book, possibly more than once. I would recommend this book to lots of my friends and some of my colleagues.

Guys, I loved this book far more then anticipated and I think everyone should start this series off with this book. There's just something so wonderful about this book (like of like wine; see what I did there?) that just makes you want more and more and more.
**This is a 4 our of 5 stars on Goodreads.**
Cover Comments: 
Oh, hi there, extremely cheesy looking cover. WHY do so many adult romance books have such terrible covers? Luckily the words were far better. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Adult Review: Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

             Romancing the Duke, Castles Ever After book 1 by Tessa Dare 
Release Date: January 24, 2014
Publisher: Avon 
Source: Library  
In the first in Tessa Dare's captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love . . .

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one. 
Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince? 
No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.
Review: 
This book is the reason I have read the majority of the adult books I've read for the past few weeks. There was just something so addicting about this book that I simply did not want to stop reading it (literally...I read it in about two hours total)! Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare used all of the cliches there are in the romance genre but the way she told the story was done with acute mastery. Basically, I loved all of the clichés because they worked in a way I wasn't expecting them to.

Izzy was such a perfect protagonist that I don't even know. There's just something about a young woman who is strong and fierce but also vulnerable. She has to show all sides of herself no matter what. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling writes:“If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” THIS is why I loved Izzy as much as I did. No matter what her situation in life was, Izzy was always, always kind to people. People who didn't as much money as her or people who were far richer, she was kind and compassionate. But Izzy's kindness wasn't a weakness, it was her strength. It allowed her to empathize with all people and allowed her character to shine. 

Guys, my favorite Disney Princess is Belle and Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney. EVER. And one of the biggest reasons for this is because I love the Beast and Belle's love story because the Beast isn't the best looking or the nicest guy around but Belle's able to get past his roughness. And this is why, I think, I loved the romance in Romancing the Duke. Random, Duke of Rothbury, is scarred and disabled and not the nicest guy around but our girl Izzy is able to get past that by simply being herself. I love that Izzy got to know Ransom better NOT because she pities him but because she's a nice person who is also lonely. Both Ransom and Izzy saw something in each other that went past their attraction for each other; it was their mutual understanding of the other. This allowed both characters to treat the other as an equal and this was utterly refreshing. 

Overall, I really loved this book. It was one step from being perfect because even though I loved what I got, I wanted more...seriousness. There were plenty of times where the story line could have had more depth but it only scratched the surface. But that didn't stop me from loving this book, however, and I found myself thinking about the characters well after I finished the last page. Romancing the Duke was the perfect read for a time when I needed something to make me happy and to get back into reading. It was fun, light and heartwarming.

Recommendation
Best Friends Forever 
 This book is pretty great but it’s missing something that would make it extremely special. You might re-read this book, possibly more than once. You would recommend this book to lots of your friends and some of your colleagues.

Really, this was a perfect "I-need-a-fun-light-read-that-I-will-enjoy-and-can't-stop-reaidng" type of book.
Cover Comments: 
If you're looking for a light, fun, yet heartwarming romance that will put a smile on your face, IGNORE THE COVER. IGNORE IT AND PICK THIS BOOK UP ANYWAYS. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bout of Books 11 Sign Up, Goal, and Challenges!

Bout of Books
Hi there everyone! It's been a while since I've actually made a post that wasn't scheduled but I finally decided that I would challenge myself once again and join in on the Bout of Books read-a-thon! What is the Bout of Books read-a-thon? Well, here's the official blurb from the blog:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I'm moving back to college on the 24th so much of this week will be spent packing (oh gosh) and getting ready for classes to begin on the 25th (OH GOSH). Nonetheless, I do plan on reading at least 5 books! I won't create an actual TBR pile because as a mood reader and sticking to a TBR pile is very hard. I do, however, like having options and I have a bunch already.

*I will be updating all of my reading on this post.*
GOALS
*Read at least 5 books during the read-a-thon! 
*Participate in at least one Twitter chat
*Participate in 3 challenges (at least!)

UPDATES
Monday:
Read/Finished today:
Currently reading:
Books I've read:
Books:

CHALLENGES 

Wanna join the Bout of Books? Sign up here. This post has the schedule for the read-a-thon and share your goals here

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: I Want It That Way (2B Trilogy #1) by Ann Aguirre

Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin 
Source: Publisher via Netgalley 
Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true—for her parents' sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.
Review: 
I am, it seems, the only person who didn't truly love this book but I have accepted that I will often be the black sheep of the book blogging community. Immediately after finishing this book, I gave the book a 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. It was so good, I thought. But of course, as I allowed my thoughts to marinate (is that a strange word to use?), I came to the conclusion that I did not in fact love this book as much as I thought. I had issues with the plot and the various plot points, the characterization, and various other aspects of this novel. In the end, I Want it That Way by Ann Aguirre was nothing new in the new adult arena and offered nothing fresh or special.

I Want it That Way is the story of Nadia, who I believe is twenty-one and a college student, and Ty, her neighbor and single dad who is also her love interest. Immediately, from the second they meet, Ty and Nadia have a pull to each other. He is standoffish when they meet for the first time but as time goes by, they begin to know each other and their attraction intensifies. From the very beginning, I could not help but roll my eyes at their romance. It just seemed so insta-love to me and I initially did not understand Ty’s behavior. It’s one thing if your neighbors are being loud and obnoxious but if they’re simply moving in and struggling at that? There was no reason for him to be so upset. And this, of course, begins Nadia and Ty’s love story. Their attraction is immediate and when Nadia is not anywhere near Ty, she is thinking of being with him and kissing him. It was, in the end, too much for me. I wished that Nadia spent half of that much time thinking of her best friend and her roommates and possibly her college education.

I did, no matter how negative this review might seem, like Nadia and Ty. I couldn’t actually resist Ty because he was such a sweetheart and a great guy who was dealt an interesting hand: Ty’s son is the highlight of his life but the situation surrounding the mother of his son has a negative turn to it. I could understand Ty’s hesitance in the beginning because for any woman to have a relationship with him meant becoming a mother-like (and possibly a stepmother) figure to his son. And Nadia was a strong willed character and while I didn’t always appreciate her actions (in the spoilers section), I understood her pain and wanted what was best for her.

One of my biggest issues I had with this novel was the random introduction to little plot points, none of which see a closure to the best of their ability: *SPOILERS BELOW* Firstly, there was the issue Nadia was having with her best friend Lauren. They’ve been friends for a very long time and by the time the book begins, Lauren doesn’t act like herself. Once Ty comes into Nadia’s life, Nadia seems to on occasion think of Lauren. Nadia and Laruen have been friends since elementary school (if I remember correctly) and it seemed odd to me that Nadia wouldn’t further pursue the issue. Lauren ends up going back home and Nadia learns THEN that Lauren was unhappy. It bothered me that Ty would become such a big aspect of Nadia’s life for her to forget about her best friend.

Furthermore, the story line concerning Ty’s ex-girlfreind and the mother of his son was incomplete and it felt as though Ty was not completely over her. The story line seemed to being when Nadia first learns about the mother but does not truly get resolved. I’m not saying she needed to be present but Ty, in my opinion, did not have the closing he and Nadia deserved. I felt as though Ty still have lingering feelings for her. *SPOILERS END*

I haven’t even gotten to my biggest complaint: what exactly is the point of having such explicit sex scenes? I honestly do not understand the point of it and it’s one of my biggest issues with NA books. It seems that the majority (of the ones I’ve read) have such explicit sex scenes that I begin to feel uncomfortable and I am not easily uncomfortable.

Overall, I wasn’t as impressed with I Want it That Way as I wanted to be. The book sounded fabulous and I so wanted to enjoy this new adult book but alas it was not meant to be. I did like Nadia and Ty and Sam, Ty’s son, was my favorite character. I rooted for both of these characters love even if it was almost insta-love. I know plenty of people have enjoyed this book and I would recommend this book to people who like the recent releases of new adult novels.  
Recommendation:
Cover Comments: 
Typical new adult cover. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief #2) by Megan Whalen Turner

             The Queen of Attolia, book 2 by Megan Whalen Turner 
Release Date: January 24, 2006 
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Library  
Revenge

When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes's Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered...she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

...but
Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.

...at what price?
When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago...
Review: 
*There will be spoilers for the first book in this series!*
I am always a little bit weary when it comes to reading the second book in any trilogy or series. I am always afraid that the second book will fall pray to the second book syndrome. But when it comes to The Queen of Attolia, the second book in Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief series, there is absolutely no room for second book syndrome. With new adventures, new and beloved characters, plot twists and more, The Queen of Attolia was a book that stole my heart.

First and foremost, this book is written in the third person point of view allowing the reader to see into the minds of the characters from Gen to the Queen of Eddis and the Queen of Attolia to the magus and on. This narration allows the reader to see the development of character in all of the major players. One of the biggest aspects of this novel is the fact that not only is Gen captured by Attolia, but when she executes her revenge on him, it leaves him broken in more ways then one. The plot also centers around the war that is declared between Attolia and Eddis but also the looming threat from across the sea from Mede.

I won’t lie, the title of the third book gave away an important part of this book and that dealt with the relationship between Attolia and Gen. Even after she has had her revenge, the act leaves Attolia in a state of duress because she has a hard time accepting what she did. Gen, on the other hand, has to learn to live his new life when this drastic change occurs. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t give away what happened but the constant turmoil these two characters went through, my heart ached for them. It was a great way to see them both grow as characters but still hurt. Eddis and the Magus and Sounis were also wonderful characters and I loved see them change and grow. Surprisingly, Eddis captured my heart and I was hoping for the best for her and her country.

The writing is not only impeccable but one of my favorites. I’ve found that many fantasy novels have paragraphs or pages of information: just filler words to pass the plot along but with The Queen of Attolia? I couldn’t pin point any filler information. Everything seemed to not only matter but it made sense. I wasn’t confused during this book at all.

Overall, I don’t have any more words for this series because like so many others, I am hopelessly in love with this series. I can’t wait to read the next few books in this series (I have books 3 and 4 on my night table at this very moment) because I am dying to know what happens next. It’s a breath of fresh air when books in a series don’t end on a cliffhanger yet this still make you want to get the next book as soon as possible.
Recommendation:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Personal Challenge: Library Books!

Ever since I returned from my vacation about a week ago, I've been itching to go to my library. But instead of simply growing in the library, I decided that I would browse online and request a few books. A few meaning about three books. Just 3. In the end, I ended up requesting 11 books, 7 of which I got today.

For those of you who don't know, I'm currently participating in a read-a-thon called the BookTube-a-Thon (and I'm on YouTube now!) for which I'm attempting to read 7 books (what's with this number?). And according to my GoodReads count, I'm 17 books behind my *old/new* goal of reading 100 books this year. I initially had my goal set a 100 but quickly changed it to 50 because I wasn't sure if I could do it. But I have decided that YES I will read 100 books this year. Even if it kills me. SO if I read the 7 books for the BookTube-a-Thon and the 7 I currently have from the library, I'll be a 14 books.

So here are the 7 books I will attempt to read by JULY 31, 2014. This is when my books are due and even though I know I won't get to some of these books, it'll be better then nothing! So here are the books!

*    * *   * *
*Keertana's reviews for these books made me realize that I needed to read them ASAP!
**All images link to GoodReads page for the books* :)

I have 14 DAYS to read all of these books :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Discussion: Privilege and Disabilities

Happy for vacation! 
For the past few weeks I have been away in Jersey for vacation. I will not deny that I know I'm lucky to be able to afford to fly to New York but it is something I like to keep private. I have always kept my privilege in check or in other words, I admit to the privilege I have and I rarely talk about it to others. But as I sat at one of the iPad hubs in LaGuardia Airport, I overheard a conversation between two women. While it isn't necessarily a big aspect of this post, I would like to point out that these two women were Caucasian and at least in their late thirties (their age is something I am guessing based on their conversation I heard).

Anyways, they were discussing students and how they wanted to help the students who were incredibly bright but were often held back from the work they were required to do. One of the women's students was so bright that he would often finish one classes work well ahead of time and would often be left to do nothing else. I thought that this was a great conversation to have until they began talking about disabilities. One of the women was talking about a speech impediment a news anchor (or some job in the broadcast business; I didn't clearly hear it) had. According to the woman, he had a lisp that would often make the woman frustrated because while she could understand him, it baffled her that he couldn't just go and get help for the lisp. Then the conversation went onto about how the other woman had a mechanic who had a lisp and then a child of a friend who had another type of speech impediment.
This made me stop reading my book and pause. At first I thought that yes, the broadcaster should go and get some help for his lisp...but then I stopped. Who was I to decide that this broadcaster or the mechanic or a child should go and get help for something that I had a problem with? What if these people couldn't afford the help they didn't specifically need but could get to change something about them? Who the heck was I to say "Hey, you can get some help for that lisp because it would make me happier."

It made me think of privilege and disabilities and what people do and don't consider "socially appropriate." And how exactly could we change the way people think so that a disability, no matter what disability it is, isn't considered that person's flaw? For the purpose of this blog and because I usually talk about books, diversity in books. If we could have more books that showed characters with disabilities that didn't disable them then maybe we can change the way people think.

People with disabilities are people first and foremost. Their disability doesn't define who they are. It's their actions and feelings and what they say that matters. It doesn't matter if this person has a lisp or stutters or is in a wheelchair; they are people and deserve the same amount of respect as anyone how doesn't have disabilities.

In the end, these two women left before I did because I was so upset with their conversation. Yet the most shocking aspect of this conversation was the lack of awareness these two women had. They honest to goodness thought that what they were saying was relevant and right. They honestly thought that what they wanted to change about these people to fulfill their own desires was the right thing to do.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need diversity in books. We need to see teenagers and adults and just characters with disabilities who aren't defined by them. We need to show all people that no one needs to change or should be asked to change so that our personal wishes are granted.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hey, Look! I'm on YouTube

This is a freaky post to write. I NEVER thought I'd write it but here I am! Yes, it's a bit of shameless self promotion but this is my blog and it is for my YouTube Channel (!!!!!!!!!!) so that makes it okay. I think.

Anyhoo, for those of you who don't know--and unless you watch book tubers or follow them on Twitter and Instagram, you probably don't know--that the Booktube-a-Thon is currently going on. So I decided to jump in at this time after contemplating for about five months and made a YouTube channel.

You get to see my face and hear my voice and oh my gosh this is crazy. But here it is:
 Yep. That's me!

So, if you want to, go watch and subscribe or share it. I don't really know...But it would be appreciated!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Discussion: Don't Judge People on What They Read

Source
I won't even deny that this is going to be a rant but I'm going to try and be as...calm as possible about this post.

I don't even remember where I saw this or even who it was that said it but it was along the lines of "I judge people who don't like the books I love." Now, I'm all about "to each their own" aspect and I follow this as a rule for my life but this made me pause. Really? I mean, REALLY? Now, if this person (who even said this? Do you guys know? I can't remember) meant it as a joke then that's fine. This post can still be relevant but this kind of made me...mad. And even though this statement inspired this post, there are other events that have happened that have allowed me to write this down.

See I'm that person that has been reading for a very long time. I first began reading on my own at six when I moved here and I was able to go to libraries and books from school. So I have a rather good idea of what books I do and don't like. I tend to be that person who doesn't always love the books everyone and their mother loves but I'm always very nice about it. Again, "to each their own."

But lets just be real. There are plenty of people who judge others because they don't have the same feelings as them on a book. Lets take The Fault in Our Stars. Who doesn't love this book? Who isn't emotionally distraught by this book? Me. I liked this book a lot and I cried reading it for the first time when I read it with a friend who was a cancer surviver but I haven't see the movie yet and I honestly don't have the biggest desire to. I'll see it when it comes on DVD, yes, but I don't want to spend almost $10 on it.
Judge Judy says "Get over yourself."
Source
Yet the people who love it will sing its praise from the rooftops which is all good. It's when they bash others for not feeling the same that it gets me. And the only question I have it...WHY? Why is the world ending when someone doesn't like the same book as you? Who exactly does that hurt?

I won't deny that I feel sad when people don't feel the same way about a book I love but I won't...judge them for it. That just seems so rude and mean and defeats the purpose of showing our love for books.

For another example, I wasn't in love with Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. I really, really, didn't like it and I don't know when I'll pick up another Rowell novel but so far, I haven't gotten any hate for it. Yeah, my review is negative (and not even really a review) but people have been more understanding about it. Some have mentioned that they like seeing a different point of view and others agreed.

So what's with this judgment? What exactly does it get you? Am I the only one who feels this way? I don't judge people when they love a book that I hated but when you say one thing and go against it? I won't judge you but I'll call you out on it. So can we please step away from judging people? Allow people to love what they love for the reasons they love it. It's about reading books and allowing others to find new books to read. It's not about bringing down people who don't like what you like.
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