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Wishlist Wednesday – 26 August 2015

Wishlist WednesdayWishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper where we post about one book that has been hanging out on our wish list (either for a long time, or not so long)

One of the things I love about this feature is the fact that many books that are featured by other bloggers, often end up on my to read list. i’m pretty sure that I came across my pick for this week from another blogger (I only wish I could remember who…) My pick this week is a new to me author (Louise O’Neill), but there is something about the description that caught my eye – as well as the barbie-doll-esque model on the cover and I’m typically a fan of realistic young-adult fiction

asking for it

Description:
It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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Review – The Truth About Alice – Jennifer Mathieu

16068341The Truth About Alice
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.

But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?

It’s true. Ask ANYBODY.

Rumor has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students—the girl who has the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door—tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.

Review:
So I actually read this book earlier this year and marked it off as being reviewed, when apparently I only actually imagined doing that…lol! So some of my thoughts on this may be a bit patchy but there are also parts that really stick out (even 6 months or so later). I’ll be the first to admit that one of my guilty pleasures are lifetime movies (you know the ones, my daughter ran away and became addicted to drugs; my daughter got pregnant as a teen; my son is going to be a teen father and adopt the child type movies). They are like cotton candy for me, I get emotionally invested in them, and by the end of the movie, I’m happy that my life isn’t screwed up like that and I just move on to other things. The Truth About Alice kind of reminded me of one of those movies (and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

The book itself is told in an alternating POV from 4 different students at the high school where the title character was also a student. I found it intriguing how the author didn’t actually include Alice as a POV – maybe to keep up the idea of the perceived “truth” about her, rather than the actual truth…It was also interesting seeing how the characters devolved into the gossips and then evolved into more responsible young adults as the book progressed – although it was the person that I kind of least expected to stand up to the gossip that did.

My biggest complaint, I think, was the everything tied up too quickly – it was like alice is a slut, she did xyz and then all of the sudden, everything seemed back to normal…maybe that was how it was supposed to be – indicative of how gossip is hot one day and then not the next…but it left me feeling kind of empty in the long run. I wanted a bit more closure at the end…Overall, I gave the Truth about Alice 3.5 stars because it was something different (or at least that I’ve read) in the YA writing world.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2015 in Book Review

 

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ARC August – Intro and Goals

arc-august

So i’m not sure how I missed out on the awesome-ness that is apparently ARC August, but I was just saying to a friend (cough, Naomi) the other day that I had a ton of ARC’s off Netgalley that I needed to get read and reviewed, but I tend to get distracted with BSN (bright, shiny, new) books (yeah, I know ARC’s are BSN as well, but i’m easily distracted, what can I say!). So when I came across a Facebook post about ARC August (thanks Melissa!), I was intrigued and my explorations soon let me to the originators of this event, Octavia and Shelley at Read Sleep Repeat. So even though I’m a few days late, I’m throwing my book pile in the circle and joining in the fun!

It took me some time to examine all the books on my Netgalley account and try to figure out which ones I wanted to tackle during the upcoming month. Part of it was determined by which authors I really like and who get precedence from me when I get ARC’s of their books and others in part to fitting requirements for different reading challenges I am doing.

Planned ARC’s for August:

24737833After the War – Jessica Scott
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.

22551743The Truth According to Us – Annie Barrows
In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.

25570582Rescuing an Angel – Ann Jacobs
One fateful misstep for Gayla Levine was all it took for her once-adoring fiancé to walk away and her demanding father to disown her. Determined to finally turn her life around and embrace her newfound independence, she wants nothing to do with men or relationships—until she meets Dan Newman, a sexy surgeon who sends a shock of electricity through her every time they touch.

Dan Newman has spent his life struggling to overcome his own crippling past by devoting himself to healing others who have suffered. Now a world-class surgeon, he’s confident in his ability to face anything life throws at him—until he meets a headstrong Texas beauty who has his pulse racing and fills his dreams with impossibly sensual visions.

As they fall into a passionate romance that takes them both to the burning edges of pleasure, these two damaged souls must both confront their darkest demons. Because Gayla is haunted by the echoes of being called a failure and torn by the fear that she’ll be rejected once again, and Dan, who has proved his worth to so many others, now must convince himself and Gayla that they deserve the powerful love they’ve found.

25528536Forget Me Not – Erika Marks
When aspiring-writer Mallory Reynolds packed up for New York City, she ditched more than her quiet hometown of Magnolia Bay—she left her high-school sweetheart, Josh Loveless, behind. But when the big city didn’t deliver big contracts on her novels, she turned to writing erotica under the pen name Farrah Ivory to spare her family any embarrassment. Soon, her scandalously-sexy series, The Lost Diaries of Scarlet, is a break-out hit. Just as Mallory begins to enjoy her sweet success, her publisher leaks her true identity and a media firestorm ensues. Exposed, she decides there’s nowhere to hide—except for home.

For Josh Loveless, getting over Mallory Reynolds hasn’t been easy, but he’s done his best to move on. For starters, he’s turned his love of the outdoors and rock-climbing into his own business. And just as things are starting to settle for him, he learns Mallory’s coming home to ride out her scandal, and suddenly his world is turned upside down again…

Can Mallory convince her friends and family that she’s still the same good-hearted girl they knew? And more importantly, can Josh trust the woman she’s become, and give her a second chance to rewrite their love story with a happy ending?

25935349Dodging Temptation – Avery Flynn
On the cusp of closing a multi-billion dollar deal, Dodge Loving can’t afford for anything go wrong at his ultra-exclusive luxury resort, where privacy isn’t just promised it’s guaranteed. So when he finds paparazzi hiding in the bushes, he’ll do anything to get rid of them-even if it means firing their target: the sexy, stuck up bookworm his mom hired.

Harper Conner just wants to be left alone to catalog the resort’s rare cowboy diaries. But after slapping her cheating senator ex-husband during a televised press conference-she’s a hot commodity for the tabloids.

Alone for the first time, without the protection of her political dynasty of a family, she can’t afford to get fired-especially by the Type-A jerk who runs the place. And she definitely should never have kissed him. Now Harper has two choices: get outta Dodge…or fall in love with him.

22009625Best Bi Short Stories – Sheela Lambert (Editor)
Best Bi Short Stories is the first book of its kind, a literary anthology bringing together the very finest representations of bisexuality in fiction. The bisexuality of characters, like in real people, can be invisible to readers unless explicitly brought to their attention. Invisibility leads to underrepresentation, and on bookstore shelves that has certainly been true. Best Bi Short Stories hopes to change that by presenting the very best quality, cast in a bold light. With an all-star author lineup ranging from Katherine Forrest to Jane Rule, Ann Herendeen to Jan Steckel, and curated by longtime bi activist Sheela Lambert, Best Bi Short Stories encompasses several genres. The authors are a diverse group, as well, and Lambert sought representation across age groups, cultures, ethnicities and sexualities in both the authors and stories, demonstrating the richness of bi experience.

18453252Delectable – Adrianne Lee
Montana real estate agent Quint McCoy will tell you that the most important thing is location, location, location. It’s a lesson he learns all too well when he goes incommunicado for a four-week fishing trip to Alaska. While he’s away, his mother Molly turns his office into the pie shop she has always dreamed of, Big Sky Pie. But that’s not the only surprise in store for him.

On her way out of town, Callee McCoy only wants to say a fond farewell to her beloved mother-in-law. But Molly soon persuades Callee to stay and lend a hand at the new shop, even if it means heating up the kitchen with her soon-to-be ex. As Callee and Quint rediscover their recipe for love, they realize that some couples are so sinfully good together that one delectable taste is never enough . . .

18484795A Million Miles Away – Lara Avery
When high school senior Kelsey’s identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn’t know about the tragedy is Michelle’s boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can’t bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.

As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can’t deny that she’s falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn’t want.

So there it is, my list of books for ARC August…of course, I have some special books set aside to reward myself if I finish these ones, but you’ll just have to come back and see what they are – because I’m not going to reveal them until I reach my goal ;)

Happy Reading!

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2015 in ARC August, Reading Events

 

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Audiobook Review – Mortal Heart – Robin LaFevers

mortal heartMortal Heart
Author: Robin LaFevers
Series: #3 in the His Fair Assassin series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ¼

Narrator: Jennifer Grace
Run Time: 17hrs 52min

Review Copy Provided by Audiobook Producer

Description:
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has…

Review:
The final book in the My Fair Assassin series has been a long time coming and it did not disappoint. I mean, Assassin Nuns (which I’m pretty sure I raved about in my review of book 1 in the trilogy). In the third and final entry, we get Annith’s story. Annith who has always been the steadfast supporter of the mission of the convent and who only ever wanted to carry out the mission she had trained for – but who was never given the opportunity. As with the previous books in the series, I was immediately sucked into the author’s method of storytelling. The visuals that she paints (and maybe this was due in part to being in audio) are just so vivid, you feel as though you are in France with Annith, Ismae and Sybella (who are featured in bk 1 and 2 of the series).

While the first book in the series was much more a romance, and the second filled with political intriguing, this one reminded me of a story of redemption; of finding your place in an ever changing world. There were so many different elements that combined together during Annith’s story to complete the story arc. Anne of Brittany’s story (hint, don’t google if you don’t want to know what happened to her) played a central role once again. Honestly, one of the things I loved about this series in general was how the author took characters who would normally be minor characters (handmaiden’s) and made them key to the success of the story.

Honestly, this is a really hard review to write because I loved the book and yet I’m struggling to say why I loved it. There was so much going on – all the various storylines from the previous 2 books were being tied up as well as Annith getting her romance (and boy did she ever). I loved how the story ended (although there was one little thing that I think could be fleshed out into a further book in what ultimately happened to the Abbess – but that is something for another day).

Jennifer Grace was a new to me narrator but it won’t be the last time I listen to her. One of the things I appreciated about this series was that a different narrator was used for each book (since they were all told via different POV’s), but at the same time, how well the narrators did keeping similar pronunciation through-out (so it wasn’t ear-jarring either). I liked how she was able to bring distinctive voices to all the various characters and I never really felt that I was getting people confused as I listened (which is key to stories like this with lots of political intrigue and character interaction). One of my favorite things about Jennifer’s narration was that she was able to capture Annith’s innocence in the world because she had been sheltered all her life (as compared to Ismae and Sybella who had had much harsher lives prior to the Convent).

I gave both the book and the narration 4.5 stars, but rounding down to 4. It didn’t blow me away like the first book did, but was still heads and shoulders above many books that I have read/listened to recently. I’m intrigued to see where the author goes next, now that this trilogy is complete (personally, I would love to see some more historical YA fiction in lesser written about time periods)

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Cinderella’s Dress – Shonna Slayton

cinderella's dressCinderella’s Dress
Author: Shonna Slayton
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Being a teen-ager during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dress is even tougher.

Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she’s working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dress, life gets complicated.

Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart shipped off to boot camp, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.

Review:
Sooo, I actually read Cinderella’s Dress back in June prior to its release, started to write my review and then got distracted by some life stuff (here’s a hint, if you want time to read/review, don’t sign up for a triathlon that will take 15 hours to complete – just sayin’). But as I look back at all the books i’ve read this year, trying to figure out which review to post next, the cover of this one caught my eye, because honestly, its gorgeous and i’m a total cover whore. Yeah, i said it, i’ve been known to pick books up based solely on the cover – sometimes it has been successful, like with this book, other times I’ve been majorly burned. So gorgeous cover combined with a fairy tale retold and I was a happy camper.

I really enjoyed how the author managed to work the various elements from the original Cinderalla (specifically the dress and the wicked stepsisters) into a YA romance (although, while marked as YA, most adults would likely enjoy it also). But the author did a great job moving the setting to a WW2 time period – her descriptions made you feel like you were experiencing the war through Kate’s eyes. I really liked Kate as a character – she wasn’t willing to accept the status quo of what was expected for women who were working at the time (being store models and seamstresses), she wanted more and was willing to work for it and prove that she deserved the job she wanted/got.

The underlying Cinderella element was good and the mystery of the dress – and the idea of did Cinderella actually exist? (I mean, I loved the Drew Barrymore movie where it was based in historical context) and the way the author developed the story made it seem plausible/likely. There was a truth to the way the author wrote the book that I enjoyed (if that makes sense). Both the main and the secondary characters were well-developed – none of them seemed fake (for lack of a better word) – I could easily see (should a movie be made) how they could be portrayed.

Overall, I gave Cinderella’s Dress, 3.5 stars and would recommend for anyone interested in fairy tale re-tellings or YA historical fiction.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Dirty Little Secret – Jennifer Echols

dirty little secretDirty Little Secret
Author: Jennifer Echols

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:
I was being given the chance to do the one thing I wanted most in the world. The chance was presented to me by a guy so gorgeous, he turned my skin to fire when he touched me. And joining a band was the one thing I was most forbidden to do, the thing that would ruin my future forever.

There are too many secrets in eighteen-year-old Bailey’s life. Not just the obvious one: that she told her grandfather she was going on a date, and instead is playing fiddle in a Nashville bar. There’s all the stuff that makes it worse. Like how her younger sister, Julie, was offered a recording contract, and her family is terrified that Bailey is going to mess the deal up. Like the way that Bailey has been acting out. Like the way they’re all mad at her, even Julie.

Bailey’s parents don’t want her playing any gigs at all, but when they leave her with her grandfather in Nashville for the summer so they can tour with Julie, he lands her a music job that’s beneath the radar, playing old country songs in cheesy costumes at a local mall. That’s where she meets Sam. . . .

Review:
I have to admit that I primarily requested/downloaded this book because I fell in love with the cover. It just was to me, eye-catching. You could tell by looking at it, that the story behind it was going to be interesting – so many different elements – the violin, the picture of two people kissing…I wondered how it was all going to play out. And I’m pleased that say that it was well-worth it. In this case, the picture on the cover lived up to the story in the book (it is always disappointing when it doesn’t…).

It was also nice to see a young adult/new adult romance (since it kind of falls into both worlds), where there wasn’t a root story that involved rape (attempted or occurred); molestation; kidnapping etc. But rather, an almost normally, albeit slightly screwed up family. Sure Bailey probably got the wrong end of the stick and I felt back for her – but it was nice to see some semblance of normalcy.

I will have to admit though, that the blurb available on the authors website (as well as Amazon and other book-related ones), basically gives away the entire story. For what its worth, I edited out what you see here so it was shorter. Which is kind of disappointing…there wasn’t really that much mystery into how everything was going to play out…I wish that cover designers would go back to a more limited description, so that there is some surprise to the story…but back to the story.

The romance that developed between Bailey and Sam was sweet (there isn’t really any other way to describe it). It is definitely a book that I would recommend for older teens, because there are scenes that involve sex that would make it inappropriate for the younger people in the age group. But there was also some teenage angst (I mean, what would a YA romance novel be without the angst ;) ). But it wasn’t overdone, it felt more believeable than some of the scenarios that I have read about in different books.

This was my first book by Ms Echols, and it definitely won’t be my last. I think I have two more by her waiting on the pile at home. I gave Dirty Little Secret a solid 4 stars.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan – Seth Rudetsky

the audies

awful awesome popularity planMy Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan
Author: Seth Rudetsky

Narrated by: Seth Rudetsky, Andrea Burns, Paul Castree, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Josh Gad, Ana Gasteyer, Megan Hilty, Marc Kudisch, Will Swenson, James Wesley
Run Time: 5hr and 15 minutes
Produced By: Audible, Inc

Description:
Justin has two goals for sophomore year: to date Chuck, the hottest boy in school, and to become the king of Cool U, the table in the cafeteria where the “in” crowd sits.

Unfortunately, he has the wrong look (short, plump, Brillo-pad curls), he has the wrong interests (Broadway, chorus violin), and he has the wrong friends (Spencer, into Eastern religions, and Mary Ann, who doesn’t shave her armpits). And Chuck? Well, he’s not gay; he’s dating Becky, a girl in chorus with whom Justin is friendly.

But Justin is determined.

In detention one day (because he saw Chuck get it first), Justin comes up with a perfect plan: to allow Becky to continue dating Chuck, whom Becky’s dad hates. They will pretend that Becky is dating Justin, whom Becky’s dad loves. And when Becky and Justin go out on a fake date, Chuck will meet up with them for a real date with Becky. Chuck’s bound to find Justin irresistible, right? What could go wrong?

Review:
One thing I have loved about listening to books nominated for the Audie Awards is that it made me find authors that I had never before read and narrators I had never before listened to. And in the case of My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan, I got a double dose – with a new author, plus getting to listen to his narration/interpretation of his characters. I got to also listen to the fabulous narration by Megan Hilty (who stars in my favorite, although now cancelled show, SMASH – boo hoo). I think I spent almost the entire time chuckling at Justin’s antics. He was the epitome of the high school geek. I have to wonder how much of the book was based on the author’s experiences. There seemed to be a sense of realism that doesn’t always appear in books (that, or he never truly left his teenage years…).

To say where the plot put forth by Justin was insane, would be an understatement…I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. It was like listening to a comedy of errors as the school-year progressed. Rudetsky managed to pack nearly a full-year of high school trials and tribulations into a relatively short book (I mean, the audiobook was just over 5 hours long). I enjoyed the various narrators who participated in the book. I thought that the director found the right blend of youthful innocence and snarky humor in their voices. I also appreciated the fact that at the beginning of the book, the various narrators were introduced and the characters that they were portraying was mentioned. This really helped me be able to put a voice to a character rather than all of the various narrators blending together. This, to me, is something that I have discovered to be important in multi-narrator books.

I gave My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan a solid 4 stars and I know that I will be seeking out more books by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

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