Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

This book...this book...I am in LOVE with this book.  I keep thinking that Jessica Park can't out do herself, but with each new release I am blown away.  This is a "sort of " sequel to Flat-Out Love but you don't necessarily have to read it to enjoy FOC....but do yourself a favor and read FOL, it is also, that good. 

First let's talk about Celeste, she is, in one work A-mazing (capital A intended).  I love her quirkiness, her honesty, her bravery...and she reminds me of a certain girl I know.  And while my girl has different quirks and idiosyncrasies, they definitely have a lot in common, especially the bravery part.  I celebrated when people started to see Celeste for who she is and loved her because of that, not in spite of it. 

Now Justin, he is probably one of my favorite male characters of all time (maybe a close second to Matt from FOL).  I love that she focuses more on their personality and brains and less on how they look.  Justin is quirky, and sweet, and scattered...perfection...if I were still in college, Justin would definitely be my crush.

This is a somewhat timely review...warning it's about to get personal.  My girl is actually part of a trio...yup triplets, two girls and a boy.  Yesterday my daughter, D,  told me that a group of boys were discussing why they would never date my girl.  D, who I might add, would make a KICK ASS character in her own right (feisty red head, smart, funny, compassionate but willing to take on the world if you mess with her family).  But I digress, she went up to said boys and told them that they would be LUCKY to date my girl and there was not a chance in hell that she would date a bunch of clowns.  She then told me her group of friends were equally upset...they all see my girl for who she is...a cool, quirky, compassionate, kid.  This book gave me hope that there are people out there in the great big world that see people for who they really are...especially my girl.

Favorite Justin quote: 

"I am staggered by you.  I am intoxicated by you.  I think about you way more than I should."  ssssiiiggghhhhhh

Favorite Celeste quote:

"You taught me that I am allowed to like myself just as I am, at whatever stage I am in.  I can change, I can stay the same, or I can be whoever it is that is right for me; but I can be satisfied.  No, more that that.  I can be proud.  I can celebrate."

So, so, so good.

Book Description via Amazon

May 22, 2014  

For high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she's too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation.

But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe. If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe.

Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her--that is, if she'll let him.

Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple--two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love.

Whether you were charmed by Celeste in Flat-Out Love or are meeting her for the first time, this book is a joyous celebration of differences, about battling private wars that rage in our heads and in our hearts, and--very much so-- this is a story about first love.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

We were Liars by E. Lockhart

Everything I read about this book is true - it is a beautifully written, truly unique, and has one hell of an ending.  I loved it, in a way that you love a book that leaves you extremely unsettled, I literally couldn't put it down.  The narrative is sparse and the pacing leaves you a little breathless...I almost could hear scary movie music as I was reading...wondering when the proverbial boogey man was going to pop out.  This is cataloged at a "Young Adult" book, but it has a lot of adult appeal, it's just a great book.

Description via Booklist

 Grades 7-12 *Starred Review* Cadence Sinclair Eastman is the oldest grandchild of a preeminent family. The Sinclairs have the height, the blondness, and the money to distinguish them, as well as a private island off the coast of Massachusetts called Beechwood. Harris, the family patriarch, has three daughters: Bess, Carrie, and Penny, who is Cadence's mother. And then there is the next generation, the Liars: Cadence; Johnny, the first grandson; Mirren, sweet and curious; and outsider Gat, an Indian boy and the nephew of Carrie's boyfriend. Cadence, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat are a unit, especially during summer 15, the phrase they use to mark their fifteenth year on Beechwood the summer that Cady and Gat fall in love. When Lockhart's mysterious, haunting novel opens, readers learn that Cady, during this summer, has been involved in a mysterious accident, in which she sustained a blow to the head, and now suffers from debilitating migraines and memory loss. She doesn't return to Beechwood until summer 17, when she recovers snippets of memory, and secrets and lies as well as issues of guilt and blame, love and truth all come into play. Throughout the narrative, Lockhart weaves in additional fairy tales, mostly about three beautiful daughters, a king, and misfortune. Surprising, thrilling, and beautifully executed in spare, precise, and lyrical prose, Lockhart spins a tragic family drama, the roots of which go back generations. And the ending? Shhhh. Not telling. (But it's a doozy).

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

I love, love, loved this book.  It is, at it's heart, a story about friendship and being true to yourself...despite love.  As the title implies, there is a lot of references to movies...a big thumbs up for including the iconic boom box scene from Say  Definitely put this on your summer reading list!  (Available July 22.)

This review is based on a review copy from Netgalley.

Pretty, popular Marijke Monti and over-achieving nerd-girl Lily Spencer have little in common—except that neither feels successful when it comes to love. Marijke can’t get her boyfriend to say “I love you” and Lily can’t get a boyfriend at all. When the girls end up at a late night showing of Titanic, sniffling along with the sinking ship, they realize that their love lives could—and should—be better. Which sparks an idea: Why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they create perfect romantic situations? Now they have a budding friendship and a plan—to act out grand gestures and get the guys of their dreams. It seems like fun at first, but reality turns out to be much more complicated, and they didn’t take into account that finding true love usually requires finding yourself first.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Catching Air by Sarah Pekkanen

I have loved all of Sarah Pekkanen's books and this is no exception.  The story weaves together the journey of three very different women and what happens when we open ourselves up to new possibilities.  Pekkanen's setting choice is the cherry on top, a B&B in Vermont, it made me dream of new and interesting possibilities.  I flew through this one!

Book Description via Amazon

A chance to run a B&B in snowy, remote Vermont—it’s an offer Kira Danner can’t resist after six soul-crushing years of working as a lawyer in Florida. As Kira and her husband, Peter, step into a brand new life, she quells her fears about living with the B&B’s co-owners: Peter’s sexy, irresponsible brother Rand, and Rand’s wife, Alyssa…who is essentially a stranger.

For her part, Alyssa sees taking over the B&B as the latest in a string of adventures. Plus, a quiet place might help her recover from the news that she can’t bear children. But the idyllic town proves to be anything but serene: Within weeks, the sisters-in-law are scrambling to prepare for their first big booking—a winter wedding—and soon a shy, mysterious woman comes to work for them. Dawn Zukoski is hiding something; that much is clear. But what the sisters-in-law don't realize is that Dawn is also hiding from someone…

Relatable and dynamic, Catching Air delves deeply into the vital relationships that give shape to women’s lives.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Just meh...I loved her first two books but this one just didn't do it for me.

Book Description via Amazon

Lucy lives on the twenty-fourth floor. Owen lives in the basement. It's fitting, then, that they meet in the middle -- stuck between two floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, Lucy and Owen spend the night wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is back, so is reality. Lucy soon moves abroad with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and to San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland, Lucy and Owen stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and phone calls. But can they -- despite the odds -- find a way to reunite?

Smartly observed and wonderfully romantic, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. Sometimes, it can be a person.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Whisper to Me by Christina Lee

This the third installment in the Between Breaths series.  I didn't read the other two and it was just fine, they can all work as stand alone books.  The characters are likable but flawed...the dialogue needs work (Rachel's potty mouth felt forced)...but the chemistry between Rachel and Kai was worth the trip.  Save this for a trip to the beach.

Book Description via Amazon

May 20, 2014
A hot and consuming New Adult romance about a wayward musician and the one girl who keeps him grounded...
At college, Rachel has a reputation for being a sarcastic flirt with a thing for star athletes. No one at school knows that she'd had her heart ripped to shreds by her high school sweetheart, who'd driven them both off the side of the road on a borrowed motorcycle, and then abandoned her. No one knows the real Rachel Mattson--except one person...

Ever since he helped nurse his sister's feisty best friend back to health, pierced bass player Kai Nakos has been head over heels in love. But the supposed bad boy can't risk letting Rachel know the truth--especially now that the two of them are back in their hometown for the summer, together for the first time since the months following that fateful night. Never mind that Rachel's ex is back, groveling for her forgiveness.

Shaken by her ex's return, Rachel finds herself turning to the one guy she knows she can trust. Kai is willing to hide his feelings for her, just to have Rachel touch him again. After all, this is only a temporary fling. Until it becomes something more. But maybe it had been more all along...

I received a copy of Whisper to Me through Netgalley

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Such a great middle grade read...actually it kept this adult very entertained and engaged...I couldn't put it down.  The setting is fantastic, NYC (yeah I am a bit biased) and more specifically the Metropolitan Museum of Art and NYPL.  The characters are amazing; yes I loved Theo, she is smart, feisty, loyal, in other words, wonderful, but the other characters were equally as great...from her new BFF Bodhi to Eddie the super cool librarian (I wanted to hug the author for portraying a librarian that was cool and friendly and basically awesome.)  The art history that is weaved throughout is so interesting and never too much, it just made me want to go to an art museum and explore.  A near perfect book for grades 4-7, well anyone really.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Following her grandfather’s death, 13-year-old Theo shoulders the responsibility of looking after her mentally unfocused mother and keeping their Greenwich Village household running with no income. When Theo uncovers an old painting, possibly an original Raphael, she hopes to save their home. But is it a Raphael? Why was it hidden under a layer of paint? Was it stolen? By her beloved grandfather?! Theo and her friend Bodhi begin investigations that lead them to a church, an auction house, the public library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Center for Jewish History, and two Holocaust survivors. Theo’s household is vividly portrayed, from her grandfather’s creative ingenuity to her mother’s tenuous hold on reality. Smart and determined, down-to-earth and insightful, Theo makes an engaging narrator as she follows a winding trail of discovery. Along the way, Fitzgerald includes a good bit of art history, which becomes as interesting as the interplay between the two friends. In the end, the mystery’s solution depends a bit too much on adult intervention, coincidence, and even amnesia to be wholly satisfying. Still, it’s a riveting narrative. Readers who loved E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967) and Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer (2004) won’t want to put this one down. Grades 4-7. --Carolyn Phelan

Monday, May 5, 2014

Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins

This is the third installment in the Blue Heron series...but you don't necessarily need to read the first two to enjoy the was a great, quick read.  The book is set in the Finger Lakes...probably one of my favorite places on earth...combining my two favorite things, beautiful lakes and wineries.   The main love story, between Colleen O'Rourke and Lucas, is very delicious and very swoon worthy.  Additionally, the secondary characters are just as lovable as the main characters...Paulie and Bryce's story is sweet and funny and wonderful (I laughed out loud when she body checks him off a bar me, it is as funny as it sounds).  This would make a great vacation/beach read.

Book Description via Amazon

April 1, 2014

Is your first love worth a second chance…?
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 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. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

iDrakula by Bekka Black

The story of Dracula told in text messages and e-mails...yeah I am in love.

From Booklist

At first glance, this take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula—told exclusively through text messages, Web browser screens, e-mails, and various photo and PDF attachments—looks like shameless pandering. But check out the first text: “Renfield had a psychotic break. Carted off to Bellevue. More l8r.” It’s an opening gambit indicative of Black’s storytelling instinct, which consistently proves itself able to transcend gimmick. The format, with its realistic images of iPhone and iPad screens, actually lends the book a chilling sort of one-shock-per-page pulse—and let’s not forget that Stoker organized his novel with the letters and diaries of his time, too. Black’s enjoyable modifications turn the plot into a love triangle (well, actually, counting the count, a love pentagon): Mina is a jujitsu-practicing romantic; Jonathan, a womanizing cad; Lucy, his boozy booty call; and Abe Van Helsing, a premed student (“He’s old,” e-mails Mina, “twenty or so”). For every in-joke that weakens the otherwise serious mood (“Drakipedia”), there is an inspired idea (the five pages of bounced e-mails during Jonathan’s captivity). Fast, inventive, creepy, and sure to be popular. Grades 7-10. --Daniel Kraus

She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

This was a very interesting little book, coming at just over 200 pages.  I really liked the premise, a sixteen year old blind girl, travels from England to America to find her missing Dad.  Laureth has to take along her seven year old brother to help navigate international travel and be her eyes.  Sedgwick does a wonderful job of creating tension...with each page the reader gets more and more uncomfortable, wondering what exactly is going on, and how will everyone fare.  I found it dragged just a bit when she was reading from her father's notebook...a little to much talk of coincidence and synchronicity and Jung.  Other than that this is a great mystery for those who are looking for something just a bit different.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Teenage Laureth didn’t really abduct her precocious seven-year-old brother, Benjamin. She just needed his help to travel from their home in London to New York City to track down their missing author father. Why would she need Benjamin’s help? Laureth is blind. Once Laureth and Benjamin find their father’s precious notebook, they cleverly follow a trail of clues based on his lifelong obsession with coincidences. As they read his increasingly disturbing notes, they start noticing coincidences all around them, and soon a real sense of danger sets in. Has their father unlocked some forbidden truth about the universe? Or are they just finding patterns because they want to? Laureth’s first-person narration (notably free of visual descriptions) is full of frustrations about how people perceive her, insecurities about her limitations, and the courageous resourcefulness born of her fundamental differences. Sedgwick (Midwinterblood, 2013) plunges us deep into Laureth’s experience, detailing the actions and considerations that seem tiny to the sighted—such as deciphering money, shaking hands, using a phone, or standing in line—but which are wholly different for the visually impaired. This fast-paced thriller delivers a compelling mystery, thought-provoking questions about existence, and brilliantly lifelike characters. Grades 7-11. --Sarah Hunter

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Four Seconds to Lose by K.A. Tucker

A "new adult" book...set in a strip club...really what's not to like...

Book Description via Amazon

I believe you don’t have years, or months, or weeks to impact a person’s life. You have seconds. Seconds to win them over, and seconds to lose them.
Owning a strip club isn’t the fantasy most guys expect it to be. With long hours, a staff with enough issues to keep a psych ward in business, and the police regularly on his case, twenty-nine-year-old Cain is starting to second-guess his unspoken mission to save the women he employs. And then blond, brown-eyed Charlie Rourke walks through his door, and things get really complicated. Cain abides by a strict “no sleeping with his staff” rule. But being around Charlie challenges Cain’s self-control . . . and it’s been a long time since any woman has done that.

Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Rourke needs a lot of money, really fast, in order to vanish before it’s too late. Taking her clothes off for men makes her stomach curl, but Charlie tells herself that at least she’s putting her acting and dancing skills to good use. And though her fellow dancers seem eager to nab their sexy, sophisticated, and genuinely caring boss, she’s not interested. After all, Charlie Rourke doesn’t really exist—and the girl pretending to be her can’t get distracted by romance.

Unfortunately, Charlie soon discovers that developing feelings for Cain is inevitable, and that those feelings may not be unrequited—but losing him when he finds out what she’s involved with will be more painful than any other sentence awaiting her.