Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review: "First Frost" by Sarah Addison Allen

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves... It's October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree... and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store. Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts. Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has. Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke? When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost. Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen's enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Did I like this book?

After being disappointed by Allen's last book, "Lost Lake", I wasn't too sure what to expect from "First Frost".  I'm happy to say I enjoyed this book from beginning to end!  There's something about Allen's books that just draws me in, making me care about the characters and believe in their magic, and I absolutely love that!

It's been quite a while since I'd read "Garden Spells", so the characters and setting of "First Frost" were not exactly fresh in my memory.  I found that it didn't really matter, and that Allen's writing was subtle enough that I was gently reminded of certain plot points of the first book throughout this second book.  Of course, things have changed over the last ten years, and while I did enjoy Claire and Sydney's stories, I especially enjoyed reading about Bay.  She is such a unique girl, and I loved the direction her story went!  If I was to change anything about this book, it would be to add more about Bay!

Will you like this book?

Fans of Sarah Addison Allen will definitely like this book, and if you're not already a fan, where have you been?  Although you probably don't have to read "Garden Spells" beforehand, I definitely recommend that you do, otherwise some things might not make sense (i.e. an apple-throwing tree, a house that locks certain people out, etc.)

Will I read more by this author?

Absolutely!  I've read all of Allen's books, and I really enjoy her writing style.  I just wish my local library would jump on the bandwagon and purchase some of her books for others to enjoy (hint hint!)

My rating:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Release Day! "Only For Her" by Cristin Harber


Ready to continue Grayson and Emma's epic love story? ONLY FOR HER by Cristin Harber is available now!

OFH Amazon (1)About ONLY FOR HER

The second installment in the Only series. Must read book one first!! First loves never die but Grayson Ford comes close. Bleeding out in a war zone, he barters with God. Bring him back alive, and he'll make it right with his girl. All I want is Emma. I need her, and I fight for her memory. A story. A smile. Anything. But it's all blank. Emma is not his girl anymore. Time has skipped by and life's been hard. She strips to pay the bills, waitresses to fill the hours between classes and her third job. All while working to be the best mama she can be to the little girl who will never know her daddy. Even though Grayson abandoned her, she mourned his death. Until he calls, and everything she knew was wrong. It's him. The him that ruined my life. That made my life. That confused my mind to the point that I can't figure out if I've been destroyed or set free. The him that... is... dead. He's back with one objective--Emma Kingsley--and she never sees it coming. Only for Her, Only #2 The novella series will release in its entirety this spring.
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo ofh-quote1-v2 ABOUT CRISTIN HARBER Cristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. She writes sexy, steamy romantic suspense and military romance. Readers voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was both a #1 romantic suspense and #1 military romance bestseller. Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Team Titan Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads Text TITAN to 66866 to sign up for exclusive emails!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Review: "Reality Boy" by A.S. King

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child "star" struggling to break free of his anger. Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality TV crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he is still haunted by his rage-filled youth--which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle--and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school. No one cares that Gerald has tried to learn to control himself; they're all just waiting for him to snap. And he's starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that...until he chooses to create possibilities for himself that he never knew he deserved.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to review an ARC of this book.

Did I like this book?

I'm not sure why I held off on reading this book for so long, but I wish I hadn't.  I really loved this book, so, so much!  It has jumped right onto my list of favourites for 2014, and from completely out of nowhere!

Poor Gerald!  He is one seriously messed up kid!  I honestly couldn't believe some of the crap he'd gone through, most especially at the hands of his eldest sister!  My heart was breaking for him from the first page. Yes, he has violent outbursts and has trouble controlling himself, but it didn't take long for me to empathize with his situation once I got a bit of his backstory.  And even though this book can be quite serious, and sometimes tear-inducing, I found myself laughing like a hyena at other times, and don't those make for the best books?

Will you like this book?

I'd like to say that because I loved this book, everyone else will too, but I'm not sure that this is the case.  I think if you can be forgiving of a narrator with more than his fair share of flaws and enjoy reading about seriously dysfunctional families, then "Reality Boy" might be right up your alley.

Will I read more by this author?

This was my first book by A.S. King, and after I finished, I immediately added her other titles to my TBR list.  Very excited to read more from her!

My rating:  4.5 stars!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Review: "The Ship of Brides" by Jojo Moyes

The year is 1946, and all over the world, young women are crossing the seas in the thousands en route to the men they married in wartime - and an unknown future. In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other brides on an extraordinary voyage to England, aboard the HMS Victoria, which also carries not just arms and aircraft but 1,000 naval officers and men. Rules of honour, duty, and separation are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier's captain down to the lowliest young stoker. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined in ways the Navy could never have imagined.

Thank you to Penguin Books via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Did I like this book?

I used to read nothing but historical fiction, and this book reminded me of why I loved that genre so much!  It's got everything I want in a more involved read - characters with depth, a setting that draws me in and I can clearly picture in my mind, and an impeccably paced plot.

When I first read the title, I was picturing a ship full of mail order brides, but it turns out that the women on the ship are already married.  These are women who have met and married British soldiers while they were stationed in Australia.  Not only are the women starting a new life as a wife to someone they barely know, they are also leaving their families and country, possibly for the rest of their lives!  For most of them, the trip to England on this retired war ship is the first time they've ever been truly independent, and many of them are so young, still children by today's standards.  Moyes does a wonderful job of expressing the different attitudes of the brides.  Most are excited at starting this new phase of their lives, but some are rightfully terrified and homesick.  Still others are whiney about the conditions on the ship and having to mingle with girls of a lower class - I'm looking at you, Avice!  Throw in several hundred single men manning the ship, and you have an especially interesting dynamic!

Will you like this book?

"The Ship of Brides" has a little bit of everything - romance, history, drama, suspense, and mystery, not to mention great writing!  I think that most people will really like this book, and I will probably be recommending it to everyone.

Will I read more by this author?

This is the second book I've read by Jojo Moyes, and I already have one more of hers on my shelf and another on my TBR.  For a new-to-me author, she is quickly becoming one of my favourites!

My rating:

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Review: "Without You Here" by Carter Ashby

After fighting with her boyfriend, Ettie’s only goal is to drown her sorrows in some Jack Daniels. But when she walks into a country tavern, her attention is immediately redirected to the sexy, older man at the bar. He looks lonely, and sad, and absolutely mouth-watering. Ettie can’t wait to put a smile on his face. For the first time in two years, Wyatt finds himself jolted out of his grief—and by a spunky, vivacious young woman who somehow sees right into his soul. What follows is a passionate weekend full of more life, laughter, and pure joy than he experienced in twenty years of marriage. Wyatt thought one weekend was all he had to give, yet in the days that follow, he can’t help dreaming up a future with Ettie. And then a chance meeting shatters his hopes, leaving him more lost than ever. Now Ettie must decide whether to walk away, or to fight for the love she knows they both deserve. Without You Here is the sexy, heartwarming story of overcoming grief, embracing love, and learning to live in the moment.

Thank you to the publisher via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
Did I like this book?

Yes, I truly did, and I'm still surprised by exactly how much!  I was expecting a light romantic read here, but what I got was so much more than that. At the risk of sounding like a big fromage head, this novel touched me deeply at times, pulling me right into the lives of Ettie and Wyatt and rooting for them from the first page.

At first, I was a little annoyed with Wyatt because of how intensely he was hanging onto his wife's memory.  Then I was annoyed with Amberlee, Wyatt's dead wife!  She knew she was dying, and still she left him a list of things to keep up with after her death!  And not important things like, "Make sure our son eats all his veggies and gets into a good college" but dumb stuff like, "Water my violets".  Wyatt is so busy trying to keep up with Amberlee's list of demands that he can't move on with his life, and isn't that what you would want for your spouse?  For them to find happiness in whatever form it takes?  I know that's what I would want.

Anyway, as the book progressed, I really came to adore Wyatt!  I loved how he could just let loose and have fun with Ettie, and I loved how he treated her, especially in comparison with her ex.  Wyatt turned out to be a pretty fantastic guy, despite all the initial drama.  

Ettie, on the other hand, could have been more fully developed.  She is socially awkward and somewhat naive, and while we are given a brief explanation into why she is the way she is, it didn't seem like enough.  I did enjoy her character, though.  She has a hilarious case of foot-in-mouth disease, and she's certainly no pushover!

Will you like this book?

I think if you're looking for something a little bit different in the romance department, you will probably enjoy "Without You Here".  With Wyatt being a full twenty years older than Ettie, there is a unique dynamic that I haven't read before.  I should warn you, there is an element of insta-lust, so if that type of thing bothers you, you might want to steer clear.  I will say that in this case, at least for me, the initial attraction between Ettie and Wyatt seemed to work.

Will I read more by this author?

Absolutely!  I think Carter Ashby has an interesting style, and I'm looking forward to reading more from her!

My rating:  3.5 stars!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review: "Illusion" by J.S. Cooper

Indie sensation and New York Times bestselling author of the Ex Games series and the Private Club series, J.S. Cooper introduces the Swept Away series—three new, dark and sexy romances about a woman marooned on a desert island with a mysterious stranger—but is he friend or foe? The day started like every other day... Bianca London finds herself kidnapped and locked up in a van with a strange man. Ten hours later, they’re dumped on a deserted island. Bianca has no idea what’s going on and her attraction to this stranger is the only thing keeping her fear at bay. Jakob Bradley wants only to figure out why they’ve been left on the island and how they can get off. But as the days go by, he can’t ignore his growing fascination with Bianca. In order to survive, Bianca and Jakob must figure out how they’re connected, but as they grow closer, secrets are revealed that may destroy everything they thought they knew about each other.

Thank you to the publisher via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Did I like this book?

Ugh!  Can I end my review there?  One word?  Because that one word pretty accurately sums up my feelings in regards to the 55% of this book I suffered through.  

You know, I questioned whether I should even request this title, because the synopsis sounded a bit over the top for me.  But the cover is so pretty, and it says right there that the author is a New York Times bestseller, so I thought, "What the heck, let's give it a go!  How bad could it be?"

I'm sure you don't even want to know, it's that bad!  Like, I'm having trouble putting into words exactly how awful it is.  But I'll try.  The writing is...not good, the characters are worse, and the plot was totally unbelievable.  

Will you like this book?

I don't see how anyone could, but obviously, if you look at the other reviews and ratings out there, I'm one of the few with this opinion.  If you're unsure whether to spend your money or time on this book, here's a little quiz to help you decide:

You find yourself kidnapped and stranded on a beach with two male strangers, both of whom would love to get in your pants.  You:

A.  Start spouting movie plot lines and comparing yourself to characters like Katniss in the hopes that your vast knowledge of movies will help get you out of this situation.  

B.  Immediately align yourself with the better looking of the two men.  He is smoking hot, therefore he must be trustworthy.

C.  Decide to wash the sand out of your underwear, and end up flirting excessively with the more attractive of the two men, because obviously getting clean and ogling male flesh is more important than looking for things like fresh water, food, or shelter.  

D.  Admit to yourself that although both men are unable to resist your considerable charms, you cannot trust either of them.  Decide that you should remain wary, but work together to solve the immediate problem of surviving an indefinite period of time in the middle of nowhere.

If you chose either A, B, or C, then yes, I think you will love "Illusion".  If, on the other hand, you think these first three options sound ridiculous and that option D would make a better book, then definitely skip this title.

Will I read more by this author? 

This was my first read from J.S. Cooper, and sadly it will be my last.

My rating:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: All-Time Faves!

Welcome to "Top Ten Tuesday"!

"Top Ten Tuesday" is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week's task is to list your top ten ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years.

I'm doing this post from my phone, so hopefully all the pictures work out, but I will probably forgo the links, sorry!

YA Contemps:

Seems I have a bunch of these on my list!  I'd say these titles are geared towards a more mature reader - for example, there's no way in hell my ten year old daughter is reading any of these for at least the next four years!

1.  "Jellicoe Road" by Melina Marchetta

2.  "Winger" by Andrew Smith

3. "I Hunt Killers" by Barry Lyga

4.  "The Sea of Tranquility" by Katja Millay

5.  "This Song Will Save Your Life" by Leila Sales

6.  "Sam Cruz's Infallible Guide to Getting Girls" by Tellulah Darling

7.  "Love Letters to the Dead" by Ava Dellaira

Plus one more YA, but this one is more like historical fiction:

8.  "Between Shades of Grey" by Ruta Seputys

And rounding out the list, a couple of Contemporary Fiction titles:

9.  "On The Island" by Tracey Garvis Graves

10.  "Indian Horse" by Richard Wagamese

That was hard work!  There are probably a few books I could list as honourable mentions, but I'm going to quit while I'm ahead!

Thanks for stopping by, and if you leave me a comment with a link to your TTT, I'll make sure to comment back!