Friday, June 29, 2012

Bungalow Book Club

A few readers have mentioned that they would be interested in having a virtual Bungalow Book Club. I have set up the group on Goodreads here. If you're not already a member of Goodreads, you should be! It's free, and it's an awesome way to discover new books and keep track of the ones you've already read.

So the question is... what should we read for our first book club pick? Feel free to leave a comment here, on the Goodreads page, or by email.

Welcome to the club!

Flat Out Love by Jessica Park

Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance. Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes. And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul. To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer. Flat-Out Love comes complete with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages.

Initial Thoughts:
  • This book was rated very highly on Goodreads and Amazon, and it appears on many peoples' "must read" lists. I thought the premise sounded intersting and the cover was cute, so I gave it a go.
The Pros:
  • I loved the character of Celeste. She is beyond quirky, into the realm of needing professional help, but she was adorable. The way Julie came into her life and put Celeste under her wing was heartwarming.
  • Like in my review of Beautiful Disaster, I liked how the characters were actually participating in college. Studying occurs often in this book, like it occurs often in real life.
  • I thought the beginning of the book was hilarious. I'm sure it wasn't hilarious to Julie at the time, but it's one of those moments that you'll look back on one day and laugh.
The Cons:
  • I know this book was trying to be on trend with including Facebook status updates, but hardly any of them made any sense. They surely didn't add anything to the book.
  • When Julie goes home to see her family for Thanksgiving, it was super awkward. Like cringe inducing. 
  • I knew from the beginning what the "big secret" was. It really didn't take a lot to figure it out.
  • I know we were supposed to be rooting for Finn and Julie, but I liked the real life boyfriend much better. It felt like she didn't even give him a chance.
  • This whole family needs psychiatric care.
The Wrap Up: 3/5
  • I wasn't a big fan of this one. While it did have a story line that was different to those I have been reading, I just couldn't connect. I kept putting the book down and forgetting about it, which is very unlike me. It was cute, but it lacked the ability to keep me guessing and turning pages.
Favorite Quote:
  • "Then she did what any girl would do: she Googled him."
Want to give Flat Out Love a chance? Click here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Our journey began in fire... Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness-beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I'd never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily... Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other's most private wounds... and desires. The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart...

Initial Thoughts:

I was looking for a book that could match up to Fifty Shades after I had completed the trilogy... twice. Did you know there are Fifty Shades support groups out there? For ladies (and men?) who just don't know what to read after it? I happened upon a blog post that linked to a list, and this book was at the top. I thought the cover was strikingly similar to the Fifty Shades book. It was a worth a shot.

The Pros:

Everyone in this book comes from a tortured past, so the playing field is pretty even.

Eva seems like someone I could be friends with in real life. Just girly enough to gossip with but tough enough to do martial arts at a local gym.

Gideon annoyed me at first, but he grew on me throughout the book. He was a bit similar to the Christian in Fifty Shades, but different enough to keep me reading.

The character of Cary, Eva's best (and gay) friend and roommate, is really interesting. How he changes throughout this book kept me guessing, and I'm still wondering what's going to happen to him in the next book.

The New York setting was a welcome change of pace as I've been reading books set in small towns and the Pacific Northwest lately.

The Cons:

It WAS quite similar to Fifty Shades. The sex scenes were definitely not as graphic but the basic plot line was pretty darn similar at first.

I felt like Gideon's character could have been enriched a little. You don't find out much about him. Maybe that's supposed to add to his mysteriousness? I'm not sure. I'm sure we'll find out more in the next book.

Eva's mom is a total nut job. I wanted to shake her. Repeatedly. 

The Wrap Up: 4/5

I ended up really liking this book after I got past the similarities to Fifty Shades. As the book progressed, the similarities faded. Eva's character is far more likable than Ana in Fifty Shades, at least to me. I like headstrong young women, it gives readers someone to look up to. This is a MUST read if you liked Fifty Shades.

Favorite Quote:

"I've only seen you, angel. From the moment you found me, I've seen nothing but you."

Want to get your read on with Bared to You? Click here!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens

For almost two years now, Kiera’s boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she’s ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart. Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source—a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he’s purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes…and none of them will ever be the same.
Initial Thoughts:

  • I didn't like the cover that was shown on Goodreads. It looked like a 5th grader designed it. Yes, I am known to judge a book by its cover. Not that this version of the cover is much better, but it's an improvement. Also, I was on a bit of a college romance kick when I read this, so I figured I would like it.

The Pros:
  • When I heard that this book was set in Seattle, I automatically thought of Fifty Shades. This book is NOTHING like Fifty. In a good way. Thoughtless shows the nitty gritty, non-touristy, and not so ritzy parts of Seattle.
  • Pete's Bar is the setting for a lot of the book and I feel like I have been there a million times. It takes on the persona of your favorite bar, with your favorite patrons, and I could see myself sitting back and having a few with the regulars.
  • Kellan is dreamy.
  • Kellan is dreamy.
  • Kellan is dreamy. Yes, it needed to be said three times.
  • I felt like I was in that scene from Anchorman where he says "I'm in a glass case of emotion!" for most of the book. I was happy, angry, and sad all at the same time. This book got me a few times with a few tears trickling down my cheeks.
  • Passion. There was lots and lots of it.
The Cons:
  • I don't think I'm a very big Kiera fan. Her wishy-washy attitude towards the two boys made me want to give her a talking to quite a few times. Just when you think she's made a decision, she changes her mind. It was infuriating, but it kept me reading.
  • The unforeseen circumstance involving Denny made me mad. If you had been with someone for two years, wouldn't you think you would consult them after she just moved across the country with you?
  • Griffin's character made me a bit uncomfortable. I didn't feel like he added much to the story line with his antics.
The Wrap Up: 4/5
  • This book was a quick read and utterly engrossing. Kiera changed her mind about every five seconds, leaving me turning pages as fast as I could to find out her next decision. I could not put it down. I was so thrilled to hear that there was a sequel, because I needed to find out what happens after the cliff hanger ending.
Favorite Quote:
  • "He said I was his heart, and you don't leave your heart behind. You can't live without your heart."
Click here to buy a copy and start reading!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn't drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend America, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand. Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs--and wants--to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby's resistance to his charms, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis' apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
The Pros:
  • I was impressed by the how well the author represented the Eastern University college community. Many books state that the characters are in college, but never actually involve any college activities. Beautiful Disaster contains many aspects that are straight out of the life of a college student; meeting your friends in the cafeteria at your regular table to eat unidentifiable food, cramming for a test, hitting up the local bar with your fake id, and attending a fraternity party with the rest of the campus.
  • The character development in this book is fantastic. A lot of times just the main characters are developed, and not the supporting characters. The annoying roommate, the best friend from home, the best friend's boyfriend, the token gay friend... this book has them all and you get to know them really well.
  • Abby has a past that could threaten her good girl image. One that she wants no one to know about. The only one who knows her past is her best friend America, and the truth isn't revealed until pretty late on in the story, making you wonder the whole book what exactly she is running from. Once you find out what it is, a lot more of the story makes sense.
  • Travis is the ultimate bad boy. He has tattoos, he smokes, he drinks, he rides a motorcycle, he fights, and he brings a different girl home every night. I definitely have a soft spot for bad boy characters.
  • Abby is not your typical young adult book heroine. Although her heart is telling her one thing, she allows her head to make the decisions, which is rare in young adult literature. She is no Bella Swan, that's for sure.
The Cons:
  • Why in the world would Travis nickname Abby "Pigeon"?! It grated on my nerves for the entirety of the book. And the shortened version, "Pidge", that he uses is almost worse. Ugh,
  • Their relationship is seriously dysfunctional, almost like watching a car crash but hoping for a happy ending. This couple would need some SERIOUS counseling in real life
  • The ending. It wrapped up too quickly and wasn't very believable. 
The Wrap Up: 4.5/5
  • Is this book as good as the hype surrounding it? Yep. Sure is. I ripped through this sucker in less than 24 hours. The book was such a roller coaster that I found myself having to turn my Kindle off so that I could decompress for a moment or two. Loved. It.
Favorite Quote:
  • "'To douchebags!' he said, gesturing to Brad. 'And to girls that break your heart,' he bowed his head to me. His eyes lost focus. 'And to the absolute fucking horror of losing your best friend because you were stupid enough to fall in love with her.'" -Travis
Click here to buy a copy and start reading RIGHT NOW.