Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tempting New Tales

Tempting New Tales is my weekly post where I share what new books I managed to acquire this week.  Credit goes back to the Stacking the Shelves weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Here's what I got this week...

What did you get this week?  Leave a comment!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
Release Date: March 1, 2014
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

All they have in common is that they're less than perfect. And all they're looking for is the perfect distraction.

Kate's dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she's still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he's a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?

I have to admit that when I first started reading this story, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it.  I thought it was going to be one of those cutesy high school stories filled with silly drama.  After all, it jumps immediately into a breakup between Kate, the main character, and her shallow boyfriend... who uses some of the most cliche reasons for the breakup.  Kate herself responds to the breakup in a a too-teen way... I really thought I'd be struggling through the book.  It didn't take long, however, for the book to prove me wrong and capture my attention.

The introduction of Aiden, and the revelation of Kate's diabetes changes all that.  Here are two characters who have something about them that makes them different.  Aiden is disabled and hates the pity and egg-shell walking that's going on around him.  It causes his disability to weigh even more heavily upon him.  Then you have Kate with a recent diabetes diagnosis that she doesn't take care of.  It's not that she's too immature or flighty to do so, but because she's so scared of what it means to her life for the long haul that she subconsciously feels that if she ignores it, it will go away.

What they each find in each is a lightness of spirit and comfort that both desperately needed.  I loved watching the development of this romance, and the positive ways in which each influences the other in such a subtle but profound way.

The author's writing was sensitive to these two subjects, but the book was in no way depressing.  It had moments of laughter, romance, and seriousness that were an excellent blend.  I really enjoyed it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Waiting on the Sidelines by Ginger Scott

Waiting on the Sidelines by Ginger Scott
Release Date:  November 13, 2013
Publisher:  Ginger Scott

Nolan Lennox had things figured out. She enjoyed being the Tomboy, her closet filled with her brother’s hand-me-downs, cut-off jeans and soccer shorts. But when her first trip to high school results in a broken heart from the first boy to ever make her heart flutter, Nolan starts to question the very person she thought she was and wonders if her humble upbringing can compete with the afforded luxuries of her privileged peers.

Nolan struggles to maintain herself throughout her path of discovery, learning just how cruel teenagers can be through the pressures of underage drinking, sexuality and class. And despite how life seems to continue to work against her, she still manages to listen to her heart, falling deeper and deeper for the guy the entire town adores, even if he only sees her as a friend. Can Nolan strike a compromise between her own integrity and the boy she loves? And can she make him notice her before it’s too late?

This book worked for me, inside-out, backward-forward, and all the way around.  I'm not sure I can put my finger on exactly what made this story such a hit for me.  Some books just have an "it" factor to them, and you know it when you read them.  Waiting on the Sidelines had it.  I can't remember the last book I enjoyed reading so much.

It was a simple story, but a wonderful one.  There was no grand, sweeping plot thickness, no danger or deep external conflicts.  Instead, it contained real life situations from a teenage girl's perspective that reminded you what it was like to be in high school... not just attending classes and wanting boyfriends, but the real life struggles that the average kids must endure.

I loved both of the main characters in this story, but I especially love how real and down-to-earth that Nolan was.  She starts out as a tomboy that is perfectly content to be so, and then she meets that one guy, you know the one... the guy that caused us all to want to be more so that he would notice us.  Reed was that guy for Nolan.  Suddenly, she finds herself wanting to dress a little different.  But here's the thing... in a lot of similar stories, the girl would change and completely lose who she is.  Not so with Nolan.  She stays true to herself and to her character.  And then there was Reed.  I loved this guy, despite a rocky beginning.  He was a genuine good guy, and there aren't many of those out there.  This is not to say that Reed is perfect.  He most definitely wasn't.  But I loved him all the same.

The fact that this story takes place across a four-year span allowed us as readers to really watch the change and growth of these characters to a very satisfying degree.  I wasn't quite sure if the story would be able to sustain such a huge time span, as most other books I've read weren't able to and actually dragged.  However, the author so skillfully moved the story along through this large time frame that I didn't even really notice.  The benefits to this of course was the character journey I already mentioned, but also the development of a great romance that we are able to watch grow with agonizing slowness.

It I had any complaints about this story at all, it would be one of the secondary characters named Tyler.  He turned into somewhat of a cliche for me, but to be honest, I loved the book so much that I didn't let it faze me.

The author did a fabulous job with this story and I can't wait to read the sequel.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. WoW posts are about books that you can’t wait to get your hands on.

This is one of my favorite posts to read on the blogs that I follow because other bloggers have found so many wonderful books that I had no idea about! I get most of those from reading Waiting on Wednesday posts. :-) I urge you to visit other blogs and read theirs to find these great lists!

Chase Harcourt, call sign "Nyx," is one of only two pilots chosen to fly the experimental "Streaker" jets at the junior Air Force Academy in the year 2048. She's tough and impulsive with lightning-fast reactions, but few know the pain and loneliness of her past or the dark secret about her father. All anyone cares about is that Chase aces the upcoming Streaker trials, proving the prototype jet can knock the enemy out of the sky.

But as the world tilts toward war, Chase cracks open a military secret. There's a third Streaker jet, whose young hotshot pilot, Tristan, can match her on the ground and in the clouds. Chase doesn't play well with others, but to save her country she may just have to put her life in the hands of the competition.

Release Date: March 10, 2015

Why I'm excited about it:
Anything set in space has
my vote!  Can't wait to see this one.

Leave a comment and let me know what your WoWs are this week!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: The F--- It List by Julie Halpern

The F--- It List by Julie Halpern
Release Date:

Alex’s father recently died in a car accident. And on the night of his funeral, her best friend Becca slept with Alex’s boyfriend. So things aren’t great. Alex steps away from her friendship with Becca and focuses on her family.
But when Alex finally decides to forgive Becca, she finds out something that will change her world again—Becca has cancer.  So what do you do when your best friend has cancer?  You help her shave her head.  And then you take her bucket list and try to fulfill it on her behalf.  Because if that's all you can do to help your ailing friend---you do it.

I loved the concept of this story very much from the outset.  As the summary states, Alex decides to forgive her friend for something I would find it very difficult to forgive, and then finds out she has cancer.  It speaks well of Alex that she was willing to forgive her friend for having slept with her boyfriend, but this is a great introduction to the character of Alex.

The idea that she will complete the bucket list for her sick friend was a very touching one, since her friend is too ill to handle the majority of the list.  This is such a giving thing to do, especially as Alex has had tragedy in her own life with the death of her father on the same day that Becca betrayed her. Unlike other reviewers, I actually liked the fact that the book didn't center completely around the list and crossing items off it.  To me, that would have made for a very boring book, and if her relationship with Becca and the reality of her cancer had taken more of a center-stage I think the book would have been a lot more depressing as well.  So the author's choice her to focus on multiple things was, to me, a good one.

Leo and her building relationship with him was a nice distraction here.  I really liked Leo, although I would have liked to have seen more personality from him.  His character fell a little flat for me. However, his presence in the middle of this situation helped to create a catalyst for some positive change within Alex and her character.  And I loved her as a character.  I loved how real and raw she was, and I loved watching her work through her issues, allowing herself to care about someone, and to allow others to care for her.

All in all, I found this to be a very touching book and I think the author did a wonderful job dealing with some serious issues.  A very good book.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal.  Well, as normal as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life.  Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for...his girlfriend, Kenzie.  Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again. But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, normal simply isn't to be. For Ethan's newphew, Keirran is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten.  As Ethan Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.

Okay, I gotta like it because it's a Nevernever story and written by Julie Kagawa.  There were a few things that didn't quite gel for me, however.  I had a little trouble getting into, and sticking with, this one at first.  I still loved the characters, but at the same time, a couple of them made some pretty poor choices in this story.  Obviously, characters aren't always going to choose the correct path, otherwise we wouldn't have a story.  That being said though, there's a difference between making a wrong choice and making just some downright stupid choices that can't even be justified.

I still love Ethan Chase, and I love the journey that he's on.  Slowly but surely he's opening up and becoming our hero.  I love when he gets into fight mode and I have to admit that these are some of my favorite scenes.  He's so brave and strong in this series.

But I have to hand it to Keirran as a character.  It's almost as if this story is gradually more then Keirran's story rather than Ethan's.  This could be a good or a bad thing, depending.  But I am downright fascinated by Keirran and the changes he's going through.  Just when I think I know his motives, something happens to make me question them.  But he's so fascinating that ou can't help but be riveted by him.

May I say that I loved, loved, loved having Puck back in this story.  He's one of the things that so enchanted me about the original Iron Fey series.  Having him involved was great, as were the few moments with Ash. It's always great to have Ash there. 

Then there's the ending.  I was so shocked by this ending, wailing at my book and counting down the days until we would get to find out what happens from there.  Julie Kagawa certainly knows how to leave you wanting more.  In fact, the writing was amazing as always.  Julie is a born storyteller and knows how to pull you into her work.  Another great installment.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date:  November 5, 2013
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion

Seventeen-year old Cassie is a natural reading people.  Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want.  But it's not a skill she's ever taken seriously.  Until the FBI come knocking.  They've begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.  What she doesn't realize is that there's more at risk than a few unsolved homicides...especially when she's sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.  Sarcastic, priveleged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie's head...and under her skin.  Brooding Dean shares Cassie's gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm's length.  Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem.

I had some mixed feelings about this story.  On the whole I enjoyed it, but there were a few things that did bother me about it that kept me from really loving it completely.

First off, I loved the concept of the story... the idea that there are these gifted teenagers out there who are able to perceive things that others can't...i.e...Cassie's ability to read people, another's ability to detect lies, etc...  I did wish, however, that there had been some explanation for how they received these abilities, and no reason was ever given as to whether this is a paranormal story, if these teens are just mentally mutated, or if they have natural gifts of intuition that are just more highly developed than that of other people. But overall, this lack of explanation didn't really detract from my enjoyment.

I had a little trouble believing that the FBI would enlist kids to aid them, but I overlooked that as well because if you have a group of people with paranormal abilities/mutated abilities/overly developed natural gifts, why wouldn't you use them to help you solve crimes?  So when the teenagers got into their work, it was really fascinating.  Especially the fact that Cassie will be investigating her own mother's murder.

I did enjoy the characters themselves very much, although I could have done without the love triangle.  To me, it was just unnecessary drama.  I would have preferred that the romance focus exclusively on the one guy she ends up with.  I felt like having another guy involved in there just complicated things in a way that was trivial at best. That being said, I did love the romance between Cassie and her ultimate choice guy.  I loved him!

The last portion of the book was my favorite due to the twists and surprise killer.  I have to admit the author really had me going on that one.  I tried to predict the killer and was shockingly wrong.  So I have to give kudos there.  Very well done.

Overall, the story was a good one...entertaining, with a good premise and a great, shocking ending.  It gave us, as readers, closure.  It seemed as if this was a standalone book, which was really refreshing in this world of trilogies.  I'd recommend the book for a good distracting, enjoyable read.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tempting New Tales

Tempting New Tales is my weekly post where I share what new books I managed to acquire this week.  Credit goes back to the Stacking the Shelves weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Here's what I got this week...

What did you get this week?  Leave a comment!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What I've Been Up To

So why haven't I posted in a year and a half?  Four reasons:

Reason #1:  I was incredibly stressed out at my old job, working way too many hours and just generally unhappy.  Having to do blog posts on top of that was just adding to my stress and burning me out considering I had very little time.  I ended up getting a different job, which leads me to reason #2...

Reason #2: I got a new job.  I had to really sink myself into this and create a new place for myself.  I worked long hours at first.  About the time things settled down and I began to think about blogging again, reason #3 occurred...

Reason #3:My daughter had a baby... my first grandbaby.  I do NOT feel old enough to have a grandbaby, but daughter, like myself, began young, so there you have it.  And a few months, later, reason #4 happened:

Reason #4: My daughter had a second baby... a boy this time.

I can't give you proof of reasons 1 and 2, but I would be happy to brag and show pictures of reasons 3 and 4.  The first is baby Vivian Leigh.  She has been such a blessing.  Check her out, in various stages of growth:

Professional picture of Vivian Leigh as a newborn.

Vivian & my daughter, Corinna
in the hospital
My son, Austin, holding Vivian...
with Corinna.

My husband, Mark, with Vivian
Vivian this past Christmas.

Newborn Gabriel Alexander
laying back and looking around
Gabriel checking things out

My daughter, Corinna, kissing Gabriel.

As you can see, the last year and a half has been extremely busy.  I've been soaking up all the love and fun in being a new grandmother.  My husband and I keep Vivian and now, probably, Gabriel, a great deal.  So we've been having a lot of fun.

I'll post updates here with some new pictures periodically so you can see how these two sweeties are progressing. More later!

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