Thursday Quotables – UnDivided


Thursday Quotables is a weekly feature hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. It is a weekly feature where readers highlight a quote or quotes from their current weeks reading. Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written.


I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a Thursday Quotables for this week, but after finishing up UnDivided over the weekend, there were enough quotes in there that resonated with me (especially in this time of upcoming political elections) that it just seemed right. As a bit of background, UnDivided is the 4th book in the UnWind Dystology by Neal Shusterman. The premise of this dystopian series is that there was a war known as the Heartland’s War fought in the past, and as a consequence, teenagers started to run wild. So the government instituted a program called Unwinding – which was basically taking an teenager and surgically disembodying them, and the parts were then used for transplants or cosmetic desires. It is set in a time, when all body parts (including portions of the brain) could be easily divided and used. I came across this series a few years ago, when it was only one book (and hadn’t heard that there was going to be follow-on ones) and while horrified in places, also enjoyed the writing style and the questions that Shusterman posed.

“Tools are neither demonic nor divine. It’s all about who wields them.”

“…facts never prevent the ignorant from jerking their knees into the groin of science.”

“In a population of hundreds of millions, such a small number of people is a mere drop in the bucket… but enough drops can make any bucket overflow”

“We must always be careful of the actions we take, for there are always unintended consequences. Sometimes they are serendipitous, other times they are appalling, but those consequences are always there. We must tread lightly in this world…until we are sure of foot.”

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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Thursday Quotables


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National Young Reader’s Day – 10 November 2015

young readers appreciation day

Image Credit: Phillip Teacher, HUFS Language Institute

I’m always amazed at when I see people post about different days of recognition – because so often they are ones that I have never heard of. Case in point: the second Tuesday of every November is National Young Reader’s Day. According to Holidays Insights, this day was co-founded in 1989 by Pizza Hut and Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. While it is referred to as a National day, there have been no actual presidential proclamation making it so (would be a nice thought though right?). According to the creators, National Young Reader’s Day is “… a special day to recognize the joys and benefits of reading.”

As a book blogger, reading has always held a special place in my heart. It was something that I loved from an early age and that my parents instilled the love of in me. I remember sitting on the couch most nights reading a chapter book with my mom (most vivid is the Chronicles of Narnia). And as i grew older, I continued reading and still do to this day. So it hurts my heart when I hear young children and teenagers say that they hate reading. I can’t even imagine hating reading. Without reading I never would have been introduced to the lands of Narnia or going on a journey with the Hobbits. I never would have thought I found friends with the girls in the Babysitters Club (or the Babysitter’s Little Sister) or fallen in love with Jamie Fraser (Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander). Reading has been such an integral part of my life over the last three plus decades and I can’t wait to see what reading has in store for me over the next three (or four, or hopefully more).

For all my reader’s out there:
What books from your childhood influenced your love of reading the most?

If you could give ONE book to a child today, what would it be and why?


Posted by on November 10, 2015 in Uncategorized, Reading Events


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Review – After the War – Jessica Scott

after the warAfter the War
Author: Jessica Scott
Series: #2 in the Homefront series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author via Netgalley

A terrible loss…
Captain Sarah Anders lost her husband to the Iraq war and has nearly lost the career she loves. Sent to Fort Hood, she only wants to do her job and take care of the daughter she’s raising on her own. She never counted on running straight into a memory she’d tried to forget.
A love he never forgot…
Captain Sean Nichols never got over Sarah. He simply tried to forget her amidst the war and the chaos of combat. But when she’s assigned to investigate his unit, he comes face to face with the woman no war or any amount of time could make him forget.
A dark secret…
As Sarah gets closer to the truth, Sean must accept that actions he took during the war may end the tentative love building between them. And even if Sarah can forgive him, Sean may never be able to forgive himself.

I always seem to hesitate when I pick up a book by Jessica Scott, not for fear of the writing, but more for fear of how much I am going to end up crying while reading…I can’t think of one of her books yet that hasn’t made me blubber like a baby in places and After the War was no different. In After the War, Ms Scott tackles the often unwritten about tragedy of war, the death of a spouse – especially, as in this instance, when the initial couple was dual military (meaning both were serving at the same time); and then following on, what if that widow(er) finds love again and how do they/can they move on. In the case of Sarah and Sean – there was that history between the two of them, which to me, made the relationship more believable. I could see from the writing that Sean still loved Sarah, even though they had been separated for many years and while Sarah was struggling with being a widow and a single mother, Jessica made her transition to love again appear believable to me.

As with all her other books, the other characters in After the War just enhanced the story and make it all the more real. Including the Col that Sarah worked for – I spent the vast majority of the book wanting to just scream at her for her behavior towards Sarah and yet at the same time, its behavior from senior officers that I have observed in real life (those that don’t have families and hate individuals who do because it interferes with their perception of the individual doing their job; the idea that if the Army (or Navy) wanted you to have a family they would have issued you one. I’ve been lucky enough to not personally experience this, but I know women who have.

As with her previous books in the series (and the series that lead into this one) – Jessica managed to walk the line between love and angst, but I will say that I did end up tearing up a little bit – not as much as I have in previous books, but enough that I was reaching for a box of tissues towards the end. After the War got 4 stars from me and I already have the next book in the series waiting on my kindle (although I am rapidly running out of books by her to read)

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Posted by on November 8, 2015 in Book Review


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Audiobook Review – Upside Down – Lia Riley

upside downUpside Down
Author: Lia Riley
Series: #1 in the Off the Map series
Rating: ☆ ☆

Narrators: Brittany Uomoleale, Tim Wright
Run Time: 8hrs and 39min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found

Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she’ll act like a carefree exchange student, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he moved back home to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He’s never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.

When i read the description of Upside Down, it seems like a book (or audiobook that I would be attracted to) – the plot description just drew me in. Unfortunately that is about all I can say about it, when it comes down to brass tacks. The idea of going on a student exchange and then finding love was intriguing and I’m surprised it doesn’t actually get used more in romance novels, but that being said, in the instance of Upside Down, it just didn’t work for me. I think my biggest issue with Upside Down was that for a good portion of the book, the sex overwhelmed the story and it just seemed underdeveloped. Yes, I know, me saying the sex took over the story is something you don’t hear very often, but it just felt like every time there was opportunities for the author to develop the plot and more the plot forward and instead the characters ended up in bed with each other.

I thought that the premise of the story was interesting, Natalia (or Talia as she was referred to in the book), trying to find herself after a family tragedy while studying abroad. And at the beginning it was like that, but unfortunately, the story took a quick down into the overly angsty realm and I really struggled to finish listening to it (and if I didn’t have it slotted into a challenge, I may have actually put it aside). I liked Bran as a character, but it seems that so many authors rely on the guy (or girl) with a secret premise to achieve the story (or in this case, both of them).

Both of the narrators, Brittany Uomoleale and Tim Wright, were new to me but I was intrigued enough by their narration that I may listen to other narrations done by them in the future. I found that both of the narrators were well-suited to the ages of the characters that they were narrating (meaning, they didn’t sound too old or too young for the ages of Talia and Bran). Overall, the narration of Upside Down made a mediocre story better but not by much. I gave the narration of Upside Down 3 stars.

While I know many readers like the new adult angsty romance, it just doesn’t work for me and unfortunately, Upside Down featured pretty much every element that I dislike in the genre – the big secret, the angst, more sex than plot. I gave Upside Down 2 stars but it may work for someone else more than it worked for me.

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Posted by on November 2, 2015 in Audiobook Review


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Review – Inn at Last Chance – Hope Ramsey

inn last chanceInn at Last Chance
Author: Hope Ramsey
Series: #7 in the Last Chance series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via NetGalley

Jenny Carpenter is the unrivaled pie-baking champion of Last Chance, South Carolina’s annual Watermelon Festival and the town’s unofficial spinster. With her dream of marriage and children on hold, she focuses on another dream, turning the local haunted house into a charming bed-and-breakfast. But her plans go off course when the home’s former owner shows up on her doorstep on a dark and stormy night . . .

Mega-bestselling horror writer Gabriel Raintree is as mysterious and tortured as his heroes. His family’s long-deserted mansion is just the inspiration he needs to finish his latest twisted tale, or so he thinks until he learns it’s been sold. The new innkeeper proves to be as determined as she is kind, and soon Gabriel finds himself a paying guest in his own home. As Jenny and Gabe bring new passion to the old house, can she convince him to leave the ghosts of his past behind-and make Last Chance their first choice for a future together?town girl

I had the pleasure of meeting Hope Ramsey at an author/reader luncheon that I attended last year in Washington DC and I was reminded of a firecracker – she didn’t seem to stop moving during the time we were there. I didn’t realize until I got home that evening that I actually had one of her books sitting unread in my NetGalley account. so I decided to take the plunge and jumped into her series, even if it was #7 in an ongoing on (something I don’t normally do, but I didn’t really have the time to go back at read the previous 6 books).

I will admit that at first I was a bit lost as to how Jenny fit into the overall Last Chance storyline, but it seemed like she was the hometown girl and it was time for her to get her HEA. Whereas, Gabriel was the outcast – he had previously lived in the house that Jenny now owns and is restoring into a Bed and Breakfast until a tragedy struck his family. I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting the paranormal aspect especially since I was expecting a straight contemporary romance (and where, as far as I could see, none of the previous books in the series had similar aspects).

I liked how Ms Ramsey developed the relationship between Jenny and Gabriel, although I thought he was a bit of a jackass early in the book. It was interesting seeing him find peace and resolution with his past. The mystery aspect was ok, and I liked how the author wrote the ghost to be a bit mischievous, a bit like a modern day Casper. I do feel as though I might have appreciated this entry in the series more if I had read the rest of the series, but at the same time, based on reading Inn at Last Chance, I don’t know if I will or not. Ultimately, I gave Inn at Last Chance 3 stars, but on the very low end.

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Posted by on November 1, 2015 in Book Review


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Review – More than Water – Renee Erickson

more than waterMore than Water
Author: Renee Erickson
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel wrong. It just…feels.

EJ Cunning, an art history major, dates musicians. Foster Blake, a chemical engineering major, can’t sing a tune. They’re not each other’s type. They’re coworkers.

Then, one night leads to sex—sex between friends—which leads to an agreement. It all seems so simple—but nothing ever is.

Many layers build a person’s facade.

Look into the depths for what’s hidden within.

It’s more than water. It’s a story—a living and breathing substance beyond the reflective surface.

More than Water is one of those hidden gem romances that I probably never would have discovered if it wasn’t for someone raving about it on the amazon romance forum and it being available in Kindle Unlimited (I can safely save I’ve gotten my money’s worth over the last couple of months). Normally I’m not a huge fan of the new adult genre of romance because the vast majority of the books are overwhelming angst ridden, but this one hit all my sweet/happy spots. There was a bit of minor angst towards the end but overall, it was a genuine romance between two opposite personality people with a bit of geek love mixed in.

I loved that Foster was a chem engineering major, it is def. one that you don’t see often show up in book – it seems that the majority of the time, the majors that characters have lend themselves to more partying than actual studying; whereas in More than Water that is what drew me to Foster – how serious and down to earth he actually was, but at the same time, he could joke around like a normal guy (although I will say for the most part – there are exceptions, that isn’t my experience with engineering majors). And then there was EJ, who in defying her families wishes was pursuing a degree in art history. I loved how she was a rebel when compared to what her parents wanted her to do and yet, it made a really good story – More than Water wasn’t just a romance, it was about finding yourself in the world – who you are – are you going to be the water that follows the predetermined river, flowing smoothing over everything; or will you be the water that will eventually carve a new path and form a new river in the world…i don’t know about you, but I think I would prefer to be the latter over the former.

There was something about Ms Erickson’s writing that just drew me in – I started reading More than Water around 1pm on a Saturday afternoon, with the plan to only read a couple of chapters before going to do typical weekend shenanigans…and before I knew it, it was 4pm, i hadn’t accomplishing anything all day, with the exception of finishing up More than Water (yes, i read it all in one sitting – I can’t remember the last time a YA or NA book sucked me in like that). I think one of my favorite parts (aside from the romance that is) was the descriptions of EJ’s various pieces of artwork and how they suited the different parts of the story. I could tell from reading that the author had obviously done her homework into different forms of both art and chemistry and how they intermixed with each other.

Honestly, I could continue to fan girl about More Than Water and Ms Erickson for a while, but I’m looking forward to reading more books by her in the future. I gave More Than Water 4 stars and recommend it to people who like sweet and slightly sexy new adult romances that are light on the angst.

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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in Book Review


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Review – The Edge of Lost – Kristina McMorris

the edge of lostThe Edge of Lost
Author: Kristina McMorris
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy provided by Author

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.

There are some authors when a new book comes out that you drop everything and read, Kristina McMorris is one of those authors and added to that, its been a LONG two years since her last book was released. So when the Edge of Lost popped as a author donated book in one of my Goodreads groups, there was almost virtual bloodshed over who got to read it first (unfortunately, I lost out and had to wait not so impatiently). So when it finally showed up in the mail, I gazed in adoration at it and then couldn’t convince myself to pick it up and actually read it (yeah, you read that right). I probably have it in my hot little hands for close to 2 weeks before I read it – I think it was trepidation of knowing once I finish it, then there would be a long wait for her next book and I just couldn’t do it…but anyways, earlier this week, I found myself in a situation where I had time to just sit and read (while waiting for my cell phone to charge) and damn, if I didn’t devour it (i mean, I read nearly the whole entire thing in about 2 hours).

As with her previous books, Kristina draws you into the time period for the book, this time the 1920’s and 1930’s which is a bit of a departure from her previous World War 2 focused books. In the beginning, we met Shanley Keagan, a young child in Ireland. As I was reading these chapters, I felt like I was reading (in part) a fictionalized version of Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) – the similar descriptions of life in Ireland just resonated through me. I’ll admit this isn’t an area of history that I’m familiar with, but after finishing the Edge of Lost, I want to read some more about it.

As the story progresses, we get to experience the trials of being an immigrant through the eyes of an Irish family in New York, the daily struggle to survive and to make something of themselves in the Land of Opportunity. But for me, the best part of The Edge of Lost was when Kristina transitioned to telling the story of Tommy Capello, a prisoner on the rock (also known as Alcatraz). Alcatraz is a place that even now, 80 years after the setting of this book that still brings shivers to peoples spines. Many of us probably grew up hearing stories about Alcatraz and the prisoners that were houses there and how it was believed to be inescapable (but is it really?). Its one of those places that is on my bucket list to visit (I was bummed when I was just in San Francisco and didn’t get a chance to go out there).

The Edge of Lost kept me on the edge of my car seat (as I sat there reading) and I was kind of unhappy when I had to go back to work and couldn’t finish reading it (that’s the sign of a good book right?). 4.5 stars for the Edge of Lost and now begins the waiting game for her next book.

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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Book Review


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