Monday, July 30, 2012

Between the Lines by Tammara Webber

When Hollywood It Boy, Reid Alexander, arrives on location to shoot his next movie, his goals are the same as always—film another blockbuster hit and enjoy his celebrity status to the fullest while doing so. His costar is a virtual unknown with whom he had blazing hot chemistry during her auditions. The universe is lining up nicely to grant whatever he wants, as usual, until he’s confronted with unexpected obstacles on location like a bitter ex-girlfriend and a rival for the first girl to spark his genuine interest in years. Emma Pierce just got her big break after more than a decade of filming commercials for grape juice, department stores and tampons, and more recently, bit parts in made-for-TV movies. Nailing the lead role in a wide-release film sent her agent, father and stepmother into raptures, and should have done the same for her. The Problem? Emma is experiencing a building desire to be normal, and starring in a silly, modernized adaptation of one of her favorite novels—opposite the very hot Reid Alexander—isn’t going to advance that aspiration. Graham Douglas doesn’t fear playing the part of a nerdy dimwit; when it comes to choosing film roles, if it pays, he’ll do it. Besides, his friend Brooke Cameron snatched up the role of the bitchy hot girl and could use his help as a buffer, because her ex is the star. Graham has no problem keeping a handle on the situation, until he finds himself attracted to Reid’s costar, Emma, the girl Reid is pursuing full-throttle with his standard arsenal of charm, good looks and arrogance.
Initial Thoughts:
I loved Easy by Tammara Webber, and wanted to read another of her books.

The Pros:
The storyline was fun and engaging. There were twists and turns and lots of cattiness.

Graham is a legit good guy, unlike Reid. He's also a bit of a mystery, which leaves you wanting to know more.

Hollywood storylines always have a bit of glitz and glamour that makes me turn pages a little faster.

The evolution of Emma from innocent commercial girl to Hollywood star was fun to follow.

The Cons:
Reid was a disgusting slime ball.

Brooke knows no bounds of her bitchiness. 

The storyline was a bit overdone. It seemed very much like the A List by Zoey Dean.

The Wrap Up: 2/5
Just another cutesy YA novel. Nothing too special here.

Favorite Quote:
"Oh no! My wings are effed up!"

Do you want to read Between the Lines? Click here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Point of No Retreat by Colleen Hoover

Hardships and heartache brought them together…now it will tear them apart. Layken and Will have proved their love can get them through anything; until someone from Will’s past re-emerges, leaving Layken questioning the very foundation on which their relationship was built. Will is forced to face the ultimate challenge…how to prove his love for a girl who refuses to stop ‘carving pumpkins.’

Initial Thoughts:
I read Slammed, and some part of me needed to complete the story. I guess that's just the OCD in me.

The Pros:
The addition of Kiersten and her mom was the best part of this book.

The author managed to make me use "butterflying" as a curse word. Hilarious.

I liked how the two families came together to form one non-traditional family. Will being present for both boys at Dad's Day at school was particularly heart warming.

The Cons:
The crash storyline. I didn't like it.

I was disappointed to see that the book was written from Will's POV. I'm not sure why.

Layken acted a tad bit childish for a girl who asked to have a lot put on her.

The Wrap Up: 3/5
I appear to be the only person on Goodreads who wasn't completely enamored with this series. It just fell flat to me.

Favorite Quote:
"He's got one of those intelligent phones. He's trying to twit the president."

Will you retreat or march forward with Point of Retreat? Click here to march forward.

Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she's losing hope. Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope. Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.
Initial Thoughts:
I thought this book would be like another Thoughtless/Effortless which I really liked.

The Pros:
I liked that Layken was a strong girl. She had to up and move her entire life after her father passes away. She looks after her little brother, as her mom is running "errands" or "working" constantly.

I really liked Layken's friend Eddie. She provided comic relief to the story.

I loved the interaction between the two brothers. It reminded me so much of my own little brother at that age.

The slam poetry in the book is something I've never seen before, and that's saying something.

The Cons:
The whole Will being a teacher thing threw me off. Even though the author "explained" it, it really didn't see feasible. 

The chances of Will and Layken being in the same situation are next to nothing. I don't like when books aren't realistic.

The writing style wasn't my favorite.

The Wrap Up: 2/5
This book wasn't really my cup of tea. If you like YA romance though, it might be good for you.

Favorite Quote:
"There are three question every woman should be able to answer yes to before they commit to a man: 1. Does he treat you with respect at all times? 2. If he is the exact same person twenty years from now that he is today, would you still want to marry him? 3. Does he inspire you to want to be a better person?"

Click here for your copy of Slammed.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

32 Candles by Ernessa Carter

John Hughes's "Sixteen Candles" grows up in this wry and satisfying romantic tale in which an ugly ducking becomes the swan she always dreamed of and gets the prince--but will she be able to keep him?
Initial Thoughts:
I am a lover of all things John Hughes, so this book was a must read for me.

The Pros:
I absolutely adored the style of writing in this book. It was funny and intelligent. There were many laugh out loud moments, yet moments that left me teary eyed.

Davie works HARD to get away from her past. But then her past shows up knocking on her front door. You have to admire the girl's work ethic.

The way Davie idolized John Hughes' movies reminds me of myself when I was little. I wanted to be the girl who drives away in Jake's red Porche.

The way that Davie suffers silently through being bullied in high school is heartbreaking, but she never retaliates. All the horrible things that happened to her were bricks in the road to her self discovery.

The Cons:
What she did was not cool. Not going to lie. It bordered a bit on psychotic, but after the things she went through, I don't know that it was completely out of line.

An epilogue would have been nice. I want to know what happened!

Finding out who Davie's father is was a shock to the system.

The Wrap Up: 4.5/5
This is one phenomenal book. Smart, funny, and tugging at your heartstrings, thrown in a bowl and mixed with 80's nostalgia. 

Favorite Quote:
"I will never let a man hand me an Invitation to Crazy."

Get your own 32 Candles here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war. A timeless story of enduring passion, The Bungalow chronicles Anne's determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.
Initial Thoughts:
Uh, the title of the book is The Bungalow. Which means I was sold from the get go.

The Pros:
This is wonderfully executed historical fiction. I was so involved in the characters lives, that by the end of the book I was so sad to be finished.

The way that the author paints a picture of the island really makes you feel like you were there with Anne.

I learned a lot about WWII and how bases were during this time.

The dynamic between Anne and her best friend, Kitty, changes throughout the book which kept me guessing.

There were so many twists and turns that this book was nearly impossible to put down.

The way the story was told from the past and the present was very interesting.

The Cons:
I didn't like who Anne ended up "choosing".

Gerard's character was vastly underdeveloped.

I couldn't get a feel for how I really felt about Anne's mother. 

Kitty's motives were unclear. Why did she do all of those horrible things? What changed her so much?

The Wrap Up: 4.5/5
I loved this book. I finished it in one sitting. After I finished, I had that heavy heart feeling. The one I get after reading a truly great love story.

Favorite Quote:
"He was there, of course - in uniform, shyly smiling at me as the waves fell into the shore. I could hear them - their violent crash, followed by the fizz of a million bubbles kissing the sand."

Click here to get your copy of The Bungalow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...' Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.
Initial Thoughts:
This came up on my recommendations on Goodreads, and I can't say no to a good psychological thriller.

The Pros:
Holy cow. This book was INTENSE.

Poor Christine. I felt so bad for her throughout the whole book. Can you imagine waking up and not remembering so much of your life?

The revelations throughout the book kept you guessing.

The surprise ending was so crazy I could barely wrap my head around it.

The Cons:
The ending was a bit far fetched.

It reminded me of the movie 50 First Dates, which was a comedy, which is probably not what I was supposed to be thinking about while reading. I kept thinking about the penguin from the movie.

Parts of this book were so slow moving that I debated putting it down, but I trucked on because I knew that in a few pages something else would be revealed.

I didn't like the story line about her son. It seemed so cruel, but really everything else in her life was just as cruel, but that part really stood out to me.

The Wrap Up: 3/5
A pretty decent thriller. It definitely gave me the creeps, but didn't leave a lasting impression in my mind.

Favorite Quote:
"With him everything is a test, affection is measured, that given weighed against that which has been recieved, and the balance, more often than not, disappointing him."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast--rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multi-millionaire and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is a ahead of her time,and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realize how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets.
Initial Thoughts: 
This book was all over the place in book clubs and on different blogs I was reading. It came highly recommended by a friend as well. I also love historical fiction so I decided to read it.

The Pros:
I almost felt like I was in the 1930's with Katey and Eve. The author really puts you in the setting with detailed descriptions of the time and place. You really get what it was like to be a working girl in those times and the limited job opportunities that were available to women at that time. 

I loved how the beginning of the book shows the two pictures of Tinker. It shows how much change the characters undergo throughout the book. The book starts with Tinker at the top and Katey at the bottom and by the end, their roles have very much reversed.

It was very Great Gatsby-esque, and as that is one of my most favorite books.

Eve reminded me of a movie star in that age. Beautiful and confident, she had every man under finger. Until the accident changes everything. 

The author chose the name of the book from a title by a young George Washington, The Rules of Civility, which documented proper behavior.

The Cons:
At some points in the book, the description of the world in which they lived overshadowed the actual characters.

When Katey visits Tinker at his vacation home, things got a bit awkward for me.

I'm at war with myself over the Epilogue. I can't decide if that's how I would have liked it to end.

The Wrap Up: 4/5
This was a great historical fiction novel painted in the tones of the 1930's. It shows us how every interaction we make can make a difference. How every action has an equal reaction. If you like historical fiction with a dash of romance, this is the story for you.

Favorite Quote:
"Old times, as my father used to say: If you're not careful, they'll gut you like a fish."

Do you want to learn the Rules of Civility? Click here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Grown Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

A Grown Up Kind of Pretty is a powerful saga of three generations of women, plagued by hardships and torn by a devastating secret, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of family. Fifteen-year-old Mosey Slocumb-spirited, sassy, and on the cusp of womanhood-is shaken when a small grave is unearthed in the backyard, and determined to figure out why it's there. Liza, her stroke-ravaged mother, is haunted by choices she made as a teenager. But it is Ginny, Mosey's strong and big-hearted grandmother, whose maternal love braids together the strands of the women's shared past--and who will stop at nothing to defend their future.
Initial Thoughts:
I really didn't have many expectations of this book, other than it's consistent 5 star ratings on every review site imaginable. I figured it had to be at least decent.

The Pros:
This was an incredibly powerful story. I definitely cried. Not going to lie.

Ginny. Oh Ginny. She is probably the strongest literary character I have ever come across. She is the glue that holds the Slocumb family together when it seems like the world is trying it's hardest to rip them apart.

This book is part chick lit and part mystery with plenty of drama thrown in. It kept me guessing. I thought I had it all figured out (I usually do figure out mysteries way before they are revealed) but I had it completely wrong in this book. Way, way off. Which was an awesome change for me.

I was rooting for all three generations of women to get their happy ending. I was so invested in all three's lives, not one more than another.

The use of southern dialect was enriching, not detracting from the story line.

The Cons:
I didn't really like how the author called Liza's stroke a "brain event". 

The fact that they didn't take proper care of Liza until the very end of the book was kind of unsettling.

The Wrap Up: 4.5/5
I really loved this book. I have recommended it to so many people who have loved it just as much as I did. It's the kind of book that you can't put down and can't stop talking about it after you're done.

Favorite Quote:
"Before my mom had her brain event, I never even saw him have a conversation with her face. He talked lower, like her thought her boobs had microphones in them and if he aimed right he could order up a chili-dog combo."

Click here to get your copy of A Grown Up Kind of Pretty NOW. Trust me. You will love it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman

Spanning three generations and half of the world, Wildflower Hill is a sweeping, romantic, and compelling story of two women who share a legacy of secrets, heartbreak, courage, and love. Emma, a prima ballerina in London, is at a crossroads after an injured knee ruins her career. Forced to rest and take stock of her life, she finds that she’s mistaken fame and achievement for love and fulfillment. Returning home to Australia, she learns of her grandmother Beattie’s death and a strange inheritance: a sheep station in isolated rural Australia. Certain she has been saddled with an irritating burden, Emma prepares to leave for Wildflower Hill to sell the estate. Beattie also found herself at a crossroads as a young woman, but she was pregnant and unwed. She eventually found success—but only after following an unconventional path that was often dangerous and heartbreaking. Beattie knew the lessons she learned in life would be important to Emma one day, and she wanted to make sure Emma’s heart remained open to love, no matter what life brought. She knew the magic of the Australian wilderness would show Emma the way. Wildflower Hill is a compelling, atmospheric, and romantic novel about taking risks, starting again, and believing in yourself. It’s about finding out what you really want and discovering that the answer might be not at all what you’d expect.
Initial Thoughts:
As a lover of historical fiction AND chick lit, I knew this would be the book for me. Throw in some serious romance and you've got a hit.

The Pros:
Emma is introduced to us as a selfish ballerina without a care in the world but herself. How she evolves throughout the book is amazing. Her volunteer work within the community in rural Australia is inspiring.

Beattie leaves her hometown with no family to call her own after being disowned by her family when they find out she is pregnant, and unwed. The pain and suffering she endures throughout the book would be enough to knock anyone down for the count, but she gets up each timer, stronger than the time before.

I loved reading about the house on Wildflower Hill. Maybe it's just because I am an old house junkie, but the history contained within the walls of the house is amazing.

The way that Beattie kept a reminder of her true love all those years with the painting of the gum tree was incredibly heartwarming.

The Cons:
I was more into Beattie's story than Emma's. Emma's lacked something, although I'm not sure what it was.

I wish there was more time spent talking about restoring the house.

The Wrap Up: 3.5/5
This was a really good historical fiction novel. Would I call it wonderful? Probably not. But, it was a quick and entertaining read that actually taught me things about Australia and their native people.

Favorite Quote:
"There are two types of women in the world, Beattie, those who do things and those who have things done to them."

Click here for your copy of Wildflower Hill.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

These Girls by Sarah Pekkenan

In her third novel, internationally bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen examines the lives of three women working and living together in New York City and shows that family secrets may shape us all, but it’s the rich, complicated layers of friendship that can save us. Cate, Renee, and Abby have come to New York for very different reasons, and in a bustling city of millions, they are linked together through circumstance and chance. Cate has just been named the features editor of Gloss, a high-end lifestyle magazine. It’s a professional coup, but her new job comes with more complications than Cate ever anticipated. Cate’s roommate Renee will do anything to nab the plum job of beauty editor at Gloss. But snide comments about Renee’s weight send her into an emotional tailspin. Soon she is taking black market diet pills—despite the racing heartbeat and trembling hands that signal she's heading for real danger. Then there’s Abby, whom they take in as a third roommate. Once a joyful graduate student working as a nanny part time, she abruptly fled a seemingly happy life in the D.C. suburbs. No one knows what shattered Abby—or why she left everything she once loved behind. Pekkanen’s most compelling, true-to-life novel yet tells the story of three very different women as they navigate the complications of careers and love—and find the lifeline they need in each other.
Initial Thoughts:
I'm a sucker for chick lit novels. Anything remotely along the lines of Sex and the City and I'm intrigued. So when you tell me about three roommates in New York? I'm sold.

The Pros:
All three girls were immensely relatable. Who hasn't felt stressed out by their job, wished they could lose a few pounds, and had their heart broken into a million pieces? I'm pretty sure every girl has.

Abby's story was the most compelling to me. It had the most depth, and kept me guessing. The love she showed little Annabelle was heartwarming.

Renee personifies my fear for girls today. No one is ever thin enough or pretty enough, and some girls will stop at nothing to be the thinnest and prettiest. It's an important lesson to instill in young women.

Cate's decision to put her friends above herself was noble, and shows where her alliances lay. Remember the saying.. chicks before... well... you know the rest.

The Cons:
I wished it was a bit longer. I wanted to know more. With around 300 pages split between three girls, that's just about 100 pages a girl. Not nearly enough to get my fill.

I wanted to know more about Trey. It seems like he was just glossed over.

The Wrap Up: 3/5
This is your standard chick lit quick read. It was interesting enough to keep me amused, but nothing I would rave about. Cute and relevant, it's a good beach read.

Favorite Quote:
"I can't take back what I did. But it might... help you to know how much I love your daughter. I thought the letters were for Annabelle, but they're not. They're for you."

Want to read about These Girls? Click here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption. When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide. An intriguing and sinful exploration of seduction, forbidden love and redemption, "Gabriel's Inferno" is a captivating and wildly passionate tale of one man's escape from his own personal hell as he tries to earn the impossible...forgiveness and love.
Initial Thoughts:
I was so hesitant to read this book, even though it appeared at the top of my recommended lists on Amazon and Goodreads for months now. I don't know why I was so hesitant about this book. Maybe the memories of the most horrible Dante's Inferno group project ever my sophomore year of high school? Possibly.

The Pros:
Now, I'm a big Fifty Shades fan. And there are a few similarities in the two series, but holy cow if this book wasn't way better than Fifty. This book is intelligent, beautifully written, and emotional.

Gabriel has nothing but the utmost respect for Julia. His attitude towards her is one of reverence, and I found that incredibly attractive. Nothing is sexier than a man who treats a woman right.

Believe it or not, this book was written by a MAN. I think it definitely adds something different to this book.

The many literary references in the book had me recalling my literature classes in high school and college, and I was shocked to find that not only did I remember most of them, I had a intrigue to read them again.

The way that the past has so greatly influenced the present is a great example of how every choice you make has consequences you must face.

Not only is Gabriel smart (he's a Dante professor for pete's sakes!), but Julia is smart as well. Highly intelligent characters in a romance novel are hard to come by.

The book was long. I love long books.

The Cons:
I'm not sure how I felt about the constantly changing points of view. One paragraph it was Gabriel's POV, then the next was Julia's, and then out of nowhere it was Paul's, and then back to Gabriel, etc.

Gabriel came across so angry and hostile in the beginning of the book that I was immediately turned off by him.

I didn't like Paul. I felt like he was an unnecessary character.

The Wrap Up: 5/5
I freaking LOVED this book. I stayed up way too late on a work night just so I could finish. If you loved Fifty Shades, but craved a more intelligent spin, this is the book for you. I'm pretty sure this book has eclipsed Fifty for me.

Favorite Quote:
"Bad things happen to everyone. Not that this was an excuse or a justification for wronging another human being. Still, all humans had this shared experience - that of suffering. No human being left this world without shedding a tear, or feeling pain, or wading into the sea of sorrow."

Believe me, you're going to want to click here to get your copy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Effortless by S.C. Stephens

A lot can happen in a year. You grow, you change, you learn from your mistakes. And Kiera had made a lot of mistakes to learn from. But she had learned, and she was determined to never cause a man pain again, especially the amazing man who currently held her heart. But life offers new challenges for every relationship, and when Kiera’s love is put to the ultimate test, will it come out the other side unscathed?
Initial Thoughts:
I loved Thoughtless (see my review here), so I figured I would love the follow up too.

The Pros:
I liked that Kellan didn't automatically take her back. She did some pretty messed up things, things that take awhile to sort out.

The portrayal of post-breakup Keira is dead on for how I have felt going through a breakup. You don't want to go anywhere, put on real clothes, or listen to anyone's advice.

Hearing about Kellan's tattoo mid-breakup pity party nearly killed my heart. Too dang sweet.

I think this book accurately portrays life on the road as an upcoming band. The questioning of fidelity, the availability of groupies, the distance. I think the author really showed the emotion of it.

Speaking of emotions, I felt so much of it reading this book. My heart hurt for Keira being so far away from Kellan when she needed him.

The Cons:
Why in the world would she not tell Kellan about Denny being back? Holding back secrets means you think you're doing something wrong, so don't do it!

The ending. As a girl, I would not be okay with that. But that may just be being selfish :)

Kellan's "secret" should have been shared with Keira from the beginning. It could have saved her so much heartbreak!

The Wrap Up: 4.5/5
I liked this one better than Thoughtless. Which I didn't think would be possible. There will be a book #3 in this series, and I honestly cannot wait for it to come out.

Favorite Quote:
"Ethics and I had crossed paths recently, and I'm not sure that I feel on the right side of the morality line."

Want to have your socks knocked off by Kellan Kyle? Click here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to Kill a Rockstar by Tiffanie DeBartolo

Written in her wonderfully honest, edgy, passionate and often hilarious voice, Tiffanie DeBartolo tells the story of Eliza Caelum, a young music journalist, and Paul Hudson, a talented songwriter and lead singer of the band Bananafish. Eliza's reverence for rock is equaled only by Paul's, and the two fall wildly in love. When Bananafish is signed by a big corporate label, and Paul is on his way to becoming a major rock star, Eliza must make a heartbreaking decision that leads to Paul's sudden disappearance and a surprise knock-your-socks-off ending.
Initial Thoughts:
Continuing on with my rockstar obsession lately, I thought this would be a bit of a change of pace with some familiarity. And I was right.

The Pros:
This was not your run of the mill romance novel with a rockstar. Not even close. It had so much depth beyond the "hottie rocker seduces innocent girl" trend.

Eliza is a smart, but damaged girl. Her heart is bigger than her head, which leads her to make some confusing decisions.

Paul is crazy. But in a good way. He is devoted to what is in his heart, much like Eliza. His music speaks for his heart, and it is beautiful. He's also quirky, not a "rock god" like a lot of these rockstar books have. I think I prefer the quirky.

The Michaels. I thought it was hilarious that every guy but Paul in the band was named Michael.

Loring. I loved him. I feel like I was on the wrong side, but I think I was team Loring.

I like that the author showed that you CAN still be friends with mutual friends of an ex. It doesn't have to be the end of the world.

The portrayal of 9/11 was heartbreaking and so dead on.

The Cons:
I know that the ending was supposed to be the best part, but I didn't like it.

I wanted to kick Eliza a bunch of times throughout the book. She was making stupid and confusing decisions constantly.

Paul handled the break up rather scarily. That's why I was not shocked by the faux ending. He seemed imbalanced throughout the book.

The Wrap Up: 3.5/5
This book was beautifully written, but the dysfunction of the characters threw me a little. I wish that the characters had been developed a little better, I felt like the only person I truly knew was Loring, and he wasn't one of the top two characters. Overall, it was a good story, but the characters ended up annoying me too much.

Favorite Quote:
"Isn't it funny to think that this magnificent piece of matter is in a state of decay? Really, can you think of any other living thing that looks this glorious as it's dying?"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Seeing Shadows by S.H. Kolee

Caitlin Kile was living a normal college life full of parties and early morning classes. Living with her best friend and enjoying her senior year, Caitlin's life seemed idyllic. Until her neighbor's cousin, Simon Crewe, transferred to her school, unbalancing her tightly controlled life. Because control was one thing Caitlin desperately needed. Simon was instantly attracted to Caitlin, but he couldn't seem to get past her guarded walls. Caitlin wasn't planning on competing with all the groupies clamoring for Simon's attention ever since he became the lead singer of a popular band. But despite Caitlin's refusal to show any interest in him, Simon couldn't seem to shake his attraction to her. But Simon didn't know everything about Caitlin. He didn't know about the images of death that haunted her while she was awake. Or the gripping terrors that plagued her at night. And Simon couldn't possibly know that those terrors were determined to destroy him. 

Initial Thoughts:
I was given this book for free by the author, S.H. Kolee. I love me some rockstars and romance with a dash of paranormal, so I was excited to review it for her.

The Pros:
Caitlin is strong despite the obstacles she has had to overcome in her life. Between losing her mother, her less than pleasant father, and her visions, she has a lot on her plate.

Caitlin's best friend Sarah aides as her support system, as she gets no support from her father. Sarah also provides a sense of comic relief and normalcy to the book.

Simon seems sweet. I don't know if I would put him on the same level as Kellan in Thoughtless, but there is definitely something dreamy about him.

Although the boys are in a band, the band doesn't play a heavy part in the book. So this is definitely not another headstrong girl falls for a rock star romance novel.

The vardoger is a very interesting twist on the paranormal trend. It actually influenced me to do a bit of research on them. I wasn't sure if the author had invented it or not, but vardogers are readily known in Scandinavian culture. 

The Cons:
As many of you know by now, I'm a stickler for grammar and spelling errors. There were a couple here and there in the book. Sarah was referred to as "Sara", "he" was just a capital "H" at the beginning of the sentence, which was a bit confusing.

The vardoger aspect wasn't explained as well as I would have hoped. I was left feeling a bit confused.

The almost sex scene was a bit awkward. The book went from being pretty PG to rated R very quickly. Not that I don't like some R rated action, it was just a surprise.

This book is going to be turned into a series, so we were left with quite a cliffhanger, and I wanted to know more. But I'm sure that's what the author intended :) I also wanted to know more about Simon's back story, but perhaps we will learn more in following books.

The Wrap Up: 4/5
This is a pretty solid paranormal romance. The story line was intriguing and kept me guessing. I am very interested to see what the author comes up with next book in the series!

Favorite Quote:
"I had assumed his touch would make me tense and anxious, but I hadn't imagined that it would make me feel as though my body was on fire as well."

Are you interested in Seeing Shadows? Click here!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Lancaster House by Taylor Dean

Zoe Grayson needs a change. So, she moves to another state, purchases an old, dilapidated 1920s Victorian Mansion, and sets out to restore it to its former glory. As she begins the restoration, she finds herself falling in love with the old house . . . not to mention its illustrious builder, Mr. Lancaster. Zoe becomes obsessed with the house as she discovers its secrets; hidden rooms, secret passageways . . . and a mysterious man who seems to think the house is his. Who is he? More importantly, how does he live in her home unseen and unheard? The unexpected answers leave her reeling—and questioning everything she’s ever known. To her dismay, Zoe’s actions land her in the local psychiatric hospital, scheming for ways to return to Lancaster House . . . and the love of her life.
Initial Thoughts: 
I am obsessed with old houses, so as soon as I read "1920's Victorian Mansion", I was sold.

The Pros:
I loved the author's attention to detail in regards to the house. It's apparent that she did some extensive research to accurately portray the house as she did. As a 1920's house junkie (I live in a 1924 American Bungalow), all of the details were spot on.

The hidden rooms that were inspired by the Winchester House were awesome treats throughout the book

I liked that they showed Zoe's doctor as a kind and gentle person. More often than not, mental health professionals are shown as cruel in books. The way he changed her medication so that she could think properly was a major turning point for her.

The unexpected visitor was easy enough to figure out from the beginning. It did add an underlying paranormal story line.

The Cons:
The whole vampire thing. It felt SO unnecessary.

Was Andre seriously that dumb that he couldn't see what she was doing to herself? I doubt he was that unobservant.

I don't like when women are so codependent on the men in their lives that they forget everything else around them. When Zoe doesn't leave the house for two months, I got a bit angry.

The Wrap Up: 3/5
The vampire thing ruined it for me. I really had high hopes for the book having more to do with the house, which seemed like a casualty of her love by the end of the book. There is a preview to the prologue of the follow up book at the end of this one and it confused me so thoroughly that I will probably have to read it.

Favorite Quote:
"I feel it Zoe, I feel you . I feel every touch, every kiss - I feel it keenly. I feel it in my heart."

Click here for your own copy of Lancaster House.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eden by Jamie McGuire (Providence #3)

She had seen the unspeakable. She would learn the unknowable. Now, she would fight the invincible. In the third and final installment of the Providence series, Nina Grey will marry the wrong man, carry the child that was never supposed to be born, and fight a war she can't win. Faced with the impossible task of protecting his new wife and unborn child against the throes of Hell, Jared Ryel is allowed no mistakes. Pressured to return the Naissance de Demoniac to Jerusalem, he revisits St. Ann's to learn the answers were in front of him all along. Together, they must survive long enough to let their child save them - and the world.
Initial Thoughts:
This is the final book in the trilogy, so I was hoping to get the answers I was looking for in the first two books. And hopefully a happy ending too.

The Pros:
Action. Freaking. Packed. Big upgrade on the other two books! The series started as a romance, and ended as a thriller.

All of the conclusions that I wanted to happen, happened. I don't want to give away too much.

The ending battle was intense. I really didn't know what was going to happen. I like when I can't figure out the author's next steps.

The culmination of all the different paranormal beings in this book was super intriguing. It was like seeing what you were taught in bible school come to life.

The Cons:
The same writing flubs she made in the first two. Gets me every time.

Some of Nina's friends sort of get shoved to the background. I liked Beth's character and missed her a lot in this book.

The hybrid baby thing was a little too Twilight for me

The Wrap Up: 4/5
A good way to round out a series. Full of action, a dash of romance, and a happy ending. What more could you want?

Favorite Quote:
"I felt like Winnie the Pooh trying to squeeze into the honey tree."

Requiem by Jamie McGuire (Providence #2)

Dreaming of the dead might mean a restless night for anyone, but for Nina Grey, it was a warning. Still healing from her last run-in with Hell, Nina struggles with not only her life as a Brown University student, but also as an intern at Titan Shipping, her father's company. Recurring nightmares about her father's violent death have become a nightly event, but being overwhelmed with guilt from Ryan's unexpected departure to the Armed Forces, and heart ache over Claire being across the ocean to protect him, Nina believes her sleepless nights are the least of her problems—but she's wrong. Worried about Nina's declining health, Jared must steal back Shax's book for answers. Fighting new enemies with the help of old friends, Jared's worst fear comes to fruition. Desperate, he is faced with a choice: Fight Hell alone, or start a war with Heaven.
Initial Thoughts:
I liked the first book in the trilogy, Providence, so I thought I would give the sequel a go.

The relationship between Jared and Nina grows and strengthens.

Not only does this book continue the romance story line of the first book, it definitely adds a mystery story line as well. Double the intrigue!

This book deals a lot more with the Ryel family. We get to know Jared's brother Bex a lot better in this book, and I really like him. He starts out as the cutie younger brother, but really steps up to the plate as a protector. Jared's sister Claire is one of the most kick ass literally females I have ever come across. 

The revelation of who Claire's Taleh is was shocking.

Nina was annoying in some parts of this book. She asked some stupid questions and came off demanding.

Her internship didn't really add anything to the story line. It just made it look like she had something to do during her summer off.

The typos continued from the first book. Using "shuttered" instead of "shuddered", missing letters in words, etc. As a spelling stickler, it drew my attention away from the book.

Nina's mom is quite annoying. She seems hell bent on being a problem and not providing any information to those who need it.

The Wrap Up: 4/5
The sequel was a good follow up to Providence. It explained a lot more in detail that you were left wondering at the end of book one, and provided more questions to be answered in the final book. Once again, I liked it enough to read the third and final book in the trilogy.

Favorite Quote:
"Claire freed him, and then lifted Ryan to his feet. She pushed back his head to inspect his wound, overly rough. 'You'll live". Ryan winced. 'Thanks, Honey, I love you too.'"

Providence by Jamie McGuire (Providence #1)

In the old world shadows of Providence, Rhode Island, Nina Grey finds herself the center of a war between Hell and Earth. Struggling with her father’s recent death, Nina meets Jared Ryel by chance…or so she believes. Although his stunning good looks and mysterious talents are a welcome distraction, it soon becomes clear that Jared knows more about Nina than even her friends at Brown University. When questions outnumber answers, Jared risks everything to keep the woman he was born to save—by sharing the secret he was sworn to protect. When her father’s former associates begin following her in the dark, Nina learns that her father is not the man she thought he was, but a thief who stole from demons. Searching for the truth behind her father’s death, Nina stumbles upon something she never expected—something Hell wants—and only she holds the key.
Initial Thoughts:
I hadn't read anything paranormal since the latest Sookie Stackhouse came out and I loved Jamie McGuire's book Beautiful Disaster, so I figured I would like this one. Cover art was a little lacking, though.

This paranormal story line has nothing to do with vampires, werewolves, witches, fairies, etc. Which was refreshing.

Jared is the ultimate protector. I wish I had someone like him around at all times, maybe I wouldn't be so clumsy!

Although there are a lot of characters, they are all well developed. There aren't any filler characters either.

I liked that it was set in Providence. I don't think I have read another book set there.

There was not only one, but TWO swoon worthy guys in this book.

A few typos here and there. I know it was a self published novel, but run it through a spell checker maybe?

It wasn't made clear if everyone has a guardian angel or just a select few. I want one.

There are quite a few similarities in this book to Twilight, but just enough differences to keep it intriguing.

The Wrap Up: 3.5/5
Pretty darn decent paranormal romance novel. I liked Jared and Nina together, and there was enough drama to keep me reading, but not so much that there was confusion. I liked it enough to read the sequel as well.

Favorite Quote:
"Don't interrupt my anxiety attack. It's rude."

Want to get a start on book 1 of the Providence trilogy? Clickity click here!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Easy by Tammara Webber

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, stalked by her ex’s frat brother, and failing a class for the first time in her life. Her econ professor gives her an email address for Landon, the class tutor, who shows her that she’s still the same intelligent girl she’s always been. As Jacqueline becomes interested in more from her tutor than a better grade, his teasing responses make the feeling seem mutual. There’s just one problem—their only interactions are through email. Meanwhile, a guy in her econ class proves his worth the first night she meets him. Nothing like her popular ex or her brainy tutor, Lucas sits on the back row, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. At a downtown club, he disappears after several dances that leave her on fire. When he asks if he can sketch her, alone in her room, she agrees—hoping for more. Then Jacqueline discovers a withheld connection between her supportive tutor and her seductive classmate, her ex comes back into the picture, and her stalker escalates his attention by spreading rumors that they’ve hooked up. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.
First Impressions:
This was at the top of my recommended reading lists on Goodreads for some time. After finally getting around to looking at it, the blurb looked interesting enough, but I honestly was thinking it would be just another college romance novel.

The Pros:
Holy cow was this book intense. I love how the author focused on empowering Jacqueline's character, and not knocking her down. Self defense classes are ALWAYS a good idea for a girl.

The whole stalker story line is terrifying. Like they tell you in college, rape almost always happens with someone you know.

Lucas = bad boy hottie. Kind of like Kellan in Thoughtless, minus the rock and roll.

Jacqueline's best friend stood by her through everything, like a best friend should. She also provided nice comic relief to the book.

I liked the use of text messages and emails in the book. It wasn't overdone, and it added to the story line, not detracted.

The Cons:
This book really scared me thinking back on my college days. Not that this is totally a con, but it made me set down the book for a little while.

The secrets in the book took a bit too long to unravel. It had me confused at some points. I thought I had figured it out, but then I didn't.

The Wrap Up: 4.5/5
Easy is a really good college romance novel with some real life lessons thrown in. The main characters are relatable and the author really hit home that rape is something that needs to be taken very seriously, even when it's attempted rape. It is a huge problem on college campuses that many people are letting slide. Take a self defense class, ladies!

Favorite Quote:
"'You are full of contradictions Ms. Wallace'. I looked up at him and arched a brow. 'I'm a girl. That's part of the job description, Mr. Maxfield.'"

Want your own copy of Easy? Click here!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past. The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
Initial Thoughts:
This book was on the best sellers list as soon as it came out, so I was intrigued to what made it so special. After reading the blurb, I was so curious about this Victorian language of flowers and how it would play a part in the book.

The Pros:
This book shows you just what happens to kids after they "age out" of the foster care situation. Also, it shows you how difficult it can be to both a foster child and a foster parent.

The Victorian language of flowers is beautiful and so interesting. The book even comes with a flower "dictionary" in the back.

Victoria's story, while heartbreaking, is empowering and inspirational.

Interconnected details that originally present themselves as mundane really build the story into something strong and meaningful.

The many plot twists kept me guessing.

The Cons:
I wasn't a big fan of the ending.

Victoria comes across incredibly selfish in many parts of the book, and at times it turned me off to the book.

The Wrap Up: 4/5
A fantastic read. The story has so much heart and the flashbacks really help you discover why the characters are the way they are. Also, you'll know what your favorite flower says about you by the end of the book.

Favorite Quote:

“It wasn't as if the flowers themselves held within them the ability to bring an abstract definition into physical reality. Instead, it seemed that...expecting change, and the very belief in the possibility instigated a transformation.” 

Want to read this amazing book? Click here!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Love Unscripted by Tina Reber

Ryan Christensen just wanted to be an actor. Never in his wildest dreams did he ever think that accepting a role in an unknown film would toss his career into overdrive. His new fame has cost him dearly; anonymity is no longer an option. His fans stalk him, the paparazzi hound him, and Hollywood studios all want a piece of him. Despite all of that, Ryan Christensen craves the most basic of human needs - to have love in his heart and privacy in his life. Taryn Mitchell, the story's protagonist, is a realist. She's been feigning contentment, running the family pub in Seaport, Rhode Island, while quietly nursing her own internal heartaches. Her feet are fairly glued to the ground and she doesn't buy into all the hype that has descended on her tiny, coastal town. In her world, men are safe if they're kept at a distance. Fate has other plans for these two when their paths cross one sunny afternoon. A group of female fans has attacked him, leaving his shirt torn, his face cut, and Ryan in obvious distress. Bonds between them form from the most dramatic of circumstances while jealousy, insecurity, and the stress of his celebrity life try to tear them apart. Through all the tabloid lies, secrecy, and pressure, can Taryn's peace and Ryan's high-profile insanity live together in harmony?
Initial Thoughts:
The cover was a little lackluster, but in reading the blurb, I was intrigued. It sounded like how Robert Pattinson cannot go anywhere without getting mauled because of Twilight. Lest we not forget, that he was equally dreamy in Harry Potter, but Twilight was what really catapulted his fame. Just like Ryan in this book with the Seaside trilogy.

The Pros:
The scene in which Taryn and Ryan meet is heartwarming. It was like Ryan fell directly into a safe place.

Taryn can be a badass when she needs to be. She owns a pub that has been in her family for generations, and even with a degree from Brown, it is her top priority. She's also very smart. She has invested in local businesses and wineries, making sure that if the bar failed, she would still be taken care of. I like a lady that's good with her money.

Ryan is just so darn cute and dependable. He just wanted something normal and constant in his crazy life. He is not a bad boy character at all. Trustworthy, honest, and oh so sweet, he is the perfect heartthrob.

Taryn's friends are amazing. When both of her parents died, they became her family. I really liked how they watched out for her through everything she went through.

In a similar fashion, Ryan's parents are so down to earth. They keep him grounded and when Taryn needs their help, they come running. It's good to see good parental figures in a book.

The Cons:
This book started off really well, but started to drag towards the ending.

There were a few too many exclamation marks for my liking. It felt like every third sentence had one.

The terms of endearment that Taryn and Ryan used for each other were a bit out of control. They couldn't say anything to each other without throwing in a "honey", "sweetheart", or "baby". After awhile I wondered if they even knew each other's real names anymore.

The Wrap Up: 4/10
Overall, this was a great book. If you like straight up romance (none of the kinky stuff in Fifty Shades) this is the book for you. The Hollywood aspect kept it interesting, but Taryn's normal life kept it grounded. There is a sequel coming out next year that I cannot wait to read.

Favorite Quote:
"I never understood how men could remember all those details about sports but, yet, were incapable of remembering where they set their car keys or wallet."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bungalow Book Club: On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

Surely you have heard of the Bungalow Book Club by now. For our inaugural book, we are going to be reading On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves.

Want to join in on the book club fun? Click here! We are planning to be finished with the book for discussion on August 1st, 2012. 

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk. The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.
Initial Thoughts:
This book came highly recommended to me by my mom. She said that if I liked The Help, I would love this one.

The Pros:
The way that Grissom weaves us into the world of the Kitchen House is incredible. I had perfect pictures in my mind of how everything was laid out, even down to peoples' faces, which doesn't happen often when I'm reading.

Sweet, innocent little Lavinia grows so much in this book. Her innocence can be a downfall, however. I just wanted to wrap her up in a hug and never let go.

The idea of family is really questioned in this book. Just because someone isn't related to you by blood, doesn't mean that they aren't your family. And vice versa.

I felt like this book really educated me on the time of slavery. There's only so much you can learn from history books.

The Cons:
The violence in this book is unsettling, but necessary. And unfortunately, there are many instances of violence in this book.

My hatred for Marshall almost made me stop reading this book.

The Wrap Up: 5/5
This book is amazing. If you like historical fiction, you will love The Kitchen House. I can't wait to see what Kathleen Grissom comes up with next.

Favorite Quote:
"What the color is, who the daddy be, who the mama is don't mean nothin'. We a family, carin' for each other. Family make us strong in times of trouble. We all stick together, help each other out. That's the real meanin' of family."

You need to read this book, like right now. Click here to get your copy.