Friday, May 27, 2016

Review: The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

Blurb from Goodreads:
Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends-and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.

So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery a murderous way. Cocktail parties aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.
My Review:
I liked this better than the last two books by this author that I read although it reminded me A LOT of Little Bitty Lies, the first book I read by this author many years ago.  Very similar themes even if the setting was different.  That being said, this was fun and pure chick lit set on an island, which I usually enjoy.  Mary Kay Andrews seems to have a repeated theme in her books of women being seriously beguiled and mislead by men -- this isn't a bad thing but it seems to occur in all of her books, at least the ones I've read.  She also seems to like second chance romance so if you are fan, this one has both!

I would recommend this to anyone wanting a fun and fast contemporary beach read -- this will definitely put you in the mood for a day at the beach and fans of Mary Kay Andrews won't be disappointed.  Add this to your beach bag along with anything and everything by Elin Hilderbrand, Nancy Thayer, and Dorothea Benton Frank!  The Weekenders was released last week on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.
In times like these, I think it's a good policy to hope for the best, but expect the worst.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods

Blurb from Goodreads:
When zodiac-obsessed teen Wilamena Carlisle discovers a planetary alignment that won’t repeat for a decade, she’s forced to tackle her greatest astrological fear: The Fifth House—relationships and love. 

But when Wil falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the astrology chart, she must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her dead mother’s legacy and the very system she’s faithfully followed through a lifetime of unfailing belief.
My Review:
First I've got to warn you that this involves a definite love triangle between Wil and two brothers -- I don't think that's alluded to in the summary but I know it's one of those things some people avoid.  I must also tell you that, although I usually don't go for love triangles, this one didn't bother me.  Putting that information aside, I really liked this one -- it was a cute, funny and quick read.  And Wil's ultimate love match?  He scored MAJOR book boyfriend points in my book -- I just liked him so much (and I won't tell you who he is)!!  There were a few lingering issues for me-- primarily, that both brothers fall for Wil within minutes after meeting her and both become quite a bit obsessed with her seemingly without much reason other than that she's very unique; and secondarily, that a few of the plot points that were supposed to be the reason for certain behaviors of the characters were glossed over despite being rather serious in nature.  Neither of these issues prevented me from enjoying this book, however, and I think you will easily love Wil despite wanting to shake her and impart some sense into her a few times while reading the book. 

I would definitely recommend this to fans of contemporary YA romance!  If you're looking for other YA contemporary romance where the MC is torn between brothers, I would recommend The Vincent Boys by Abbi GlinesThe Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han and one of my all time favorites, Double Clutch by Liz Reinhardt.   Summer of Supernovas came out earlier this month on May 10, 2016, you can purchase HERE, and I really liked it.
You can't force yourself to fall in love with someone! It doesn't work that way! Love can't be measured or quantified like stars.  It's messy and unpredictable.  Hell, sometimes it's even wrong.  And sometimes wrong is right.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that you are eagerly anticipating.

Today, I am waiting on:  
Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente

From Goodreads:
The lives of four teenagers are capsized by a shocking school shooting and its aftermath in this powerful debut novel, a coming of age story with the haunting power of Station Eleven and the bittersweet poignancy of Everything I Never Told You.

As members of the yearbook committee, Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina struggle to capture all the memorable moments of their junior year at Lewis and Clark High School amid documenting a horrific tragedy—a deadly school shooting by a classmate. But the shooting is only the first inexplicable trauma to rock their small suburban St. Louis town. A series of mysterious house fires have hit the families of the victims one by one, pushing the grieving town to the edge.

Matt, the son of the lead detective investigating the events, plunges into the case on his own, scouring the Internet to uncover what could cause a fire with no evident starting point. As their friend pulls farther away, Nick and Christina battle to save damaged relationships, while Zola fights to keep herself together.

A story of grief, community, and family, of the search for understanding and normalcy in the wake of devastating loss, Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down explores profound questions about resiliency, memory, and recovery that brilliantly illuminate the deepest recesses of the human heart.
I love this title!  This one sounds a bit like Nineteen Minutes but more complex and I like the idea of even more POV.  Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down is scheduled to be released on October 4, 2016, and I can't wait to read it!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday??

Review: Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

Blurb from Goodreads:
Lucas and Katya were boarding school seniors when, blindingly in love, they decided to have a baby. Seventeen years later, after years of absence, Lucas is a weekend dad, newly involved in his daughter Vera's life. But after Vera suffers a terrifying psychotic break at a high school party, Lucas takes her to Lithuania, his grandmother's homeland, for the summer. Here, in the city of Vilnius, Lucas hopes to save Vera from the sorrow of her diagnosis. As he uncovers a secret about his grandmother, a Home Army rebel who escaped Stutthof, Vera searches for answers of her own. Why did Lucas abandon her as a baby? What really happened the night of her breakdown? And who can she trust with the truth? 

Skillfully weaving family mythology and Lithuanian history with a story of mental illness, inheritance, young love, and adventure, Rufi Thorpe has written a wildly accomplished, stunningly emotional book. 
My Review:
I am honestly torn between four and a half and five stars for this one -- it's almost like I don't even know what five stars means anymore.  That being, said, this is definitely one of my favorite reads of this year and also completely surprised me.  Not because I wasn't expecting it to be good but because not only was the writing absolutely astounding but the story also hooked me from the beginning.  I loved the way in which this story was told -- each chapter began with a letter from Vera to her boyfriend and then transitioned to a first person POV from Lucas, Vera's father; there was some overlap but it was so interesting to have each scene told from such varied perspectives, none of which was repetitive.  The epistolary format from Vera coupled with the first person POV from Lucas worked so well that I looked forward to the alternating narratives to get a complete picture of what was going on.  Most of the book takes place in Vilnius, Lithuania and it was made to seem so, so magical!  Of course, there was also this very serious undercurrent of history and sorrow to the city from its German occupation during World War II.  Many of the characters in the book are Jewish and American and have come to the city for a history tour and to try and find out more about their relatives that lived in Vilnius before and during the occupation; many of their relatives were in concentration camps or were the only survivors of their family because they somehow escaped.  It may seem like there are a lot of threads to this story but it didn't feel that way when reading it -- everything and everyone seemed interconnected.  I really loved this book; it has its sad and scary moments but it is so beautiful in both.

I highly recommend this to fans of literary fiction; this is a brilliant story and a stunning portrayal of a different side of bi-polarism -- being a semi-absent parent to a bi-polar teenager.  And yet, it is so much more -- it is about our history, our genealogy, our second chances and, yes, a parent's love.  I was reminded of some my other all-time favorites when I finished this one -- not necessarily because of the similarity in the plots, although you can find similar threads in all of these, but because I was just so blown away with awe and beauty --  Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel.  Dear Fang, With Love comes out todayMay 24, 2016, you can purchase HERE, and I hope you consider reading this one!
Yet who was anyone to police someone else's thoughts and decide which were sane and which insane? Who were doctors to inspect my daughter's brain, determine that her ideas were delusions, her mind unfit? That was the thing about bipolar--there was no blood test, no brain scan, nothing that went into the diagnosis except one person deciding another person was insane.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Musts: Every Exquisite Thing, Radiohead & Recent Favorite Posts

Monday Musts is a weekly event, started and hosted by Jessica @ Lovin' Los Libros, which asks you to highlight your must read, must listen and must see!

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

From Goodreads:
Nanette O'Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hardworking student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bugglegum Reaper--a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic--the rebel within Nanette awakens. 

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion sometimes comes at a high price. 
ICYMI, I reviewed this one on Friday -- it's my second five star read of this year (after TRK) and I loved it!!


Radiohead - Daydreaming

Loving the new Radiohead album and this first video directed by PTA.

This space is dedicated to my favorite book blog posts every week since I don't do weekly recaps (I don't have the patience) and there are always posts that I LOVE!
What are your Monday Musts??

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Review and Giveaway: Good Girl by Lauren Layne

Enter to Win a Kindle Fire Tablet 7" 

Lauren Layne 
May 17th, 2016

In this steamy novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines, country music’s favorite good girl hides away from the world—and finds herself bunking with a guy who makes her want to be a little bad.

Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and serious heat.

Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has made her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.

My Review:
This was such a quick and enjoyable read.  I laughed and swooned throughout the entire book!  Seriously, the perfect mix of fun, sweet and steam!  I immediately liked Jenny and this book was a rare instance in a contemporary romance where I never felt that she did something stupid or there was a miscommunication that led to conflict.  Noah, he did do something stupid but it was refreshing for the entire wrong to be on the guy in this book rather than just one massive miscommunication that resulted in drama.  I would say this was relatively free of drama as well.  I also loved and thought it was kind of cool that this book employed one of my favorite tropes in a unique way -- the "stranded" trope (usually in a cabin in the snow or on an island) but, here, they were both in this dilapidated mansion with only each other for company (largely).  There was definitely a little bit of enemies to lovers in the best possible way.  I'm not a big country music fan but this turned the stereotype on its head and I think you'd love this even more if you were a fan of country music.  Good Girl was my first Lauren Layne but it won't be my last!

Good Girl came out last week on May 17, 2016, and I definitely recommend this to fans of contemporary romance! 
"You're playing with fire, little girl," he says quietly.  "I'm not one of your toys, and I'm not interested in what you're offering."   
"I'm not offering anything," I retort, even though his words sting.  "I like my men more . . . refined."   

His grin calls my bluff.  "You sure about that?"   
I swallow.  lie. "Very." 
Noah steps closer.  "So you haven't been thinking about what I said earlier, about my tongue spending time in some more interesting places?" 
 I swallow but don't say anything.
His eyes rake over me.  "Playing dumb won't change the fact that you'll be thinking about my all night, princess.  You fingers will be a poor stand-in for my tongue, I can promise you that."


Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of more than a dozen contemporary romance novels.

Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. A year after moving from Seattle to NYC to pursue a writing career, she had a fabulous agent and multiple New York publishing deals.

Lauren currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and plus-sized Pomeranian. When not writing, you'll likely find her running (rarely), reading (sometimes), or at happy hour (often).

Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

Blurb from Goodreads:
Nanette O'Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hardworking student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bugglegum Reaper--a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic--the rebel within Nanette awakens. 

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion sometimes comes at a high price.
My Review:
I am so mad at myself for waiting so long to read something by Matthew Quick!  I need to immediately read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and The Good Luck of Right Now, both of which have been sitting on my kindle for awhile because I loved this book, his latest, so much!  I seriously think there are probably no two books that speak more to me and how I felt when when I was a teenager than Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally and Every Exquisite Thing.  The first third, in particular, of this book felt almost as if I could have written it -- not that I have the talent but that someone spilled out my high school brain and caressed and molded it into something so beautiful so as to be Nanette's voice in this book.  Where do I even begin to tell you about this book?  It is, as the description states, about Nanette O'Hare, a high school senior who reads a book that changes her life but it is also about so much more.  I know this book won't be for everyone, but it was definitely for me.

The Bubblegum Reaper -- the book that Nanette reads at the beginning of this book -- has a very pronounced similarity to the The Catcher in the Rye -- it is ostensibly about a misunderstood teenager who wants to quit it all, it has an ending that leaves more questions than answers and, most similarly, it is written by a recluse who basically faded from public life after this book was published despite the fact that it has since attained cult-like status and driven thousands of people to try and seek out the author for answers.  Nanette, too, wants to seek out these answers and when she finds out that the reclusive author lives not more than 20 minutes away from her, she strikes up a friendship with him that changes everything.  I won't tell you anything else about the plot because this is one you should read but the star of this book is the writing -- it is lyrical and poetic but not heavy handed.  It doesn't take itself too seriously or try too hard.  I couldn't put this down and I never felt that moment, like I have felt recently no matter what I'm reading, that the book was dragging along.  It is short but mighty and now, for me, filled with so many highlights of passages that I will read and re-read every year.  My review isn't doing this book justice, at all, but you know by now that I loved it.  I rarely give books five star reviews because I rarely read five star books.  This is one of them.

I highly recommend this to pretty much everyone that's ever been a teenager and/or fallen in love with The Catcher in the Rye—sometimes I think those two things are synonymous.  This actually reminded me of several other favorites and it will star in a This & That soon but, for now, I can say that this was such an amazing read for me.  Every Exquisite Thing comes out later this month on May 31, 2016, you can purchase HERE, and I just loved this one so much.
It felt like so many years' worth of anxiety and worry were trying to escape all at once—maybe like an emotional volcano, only my mom and dad, they didn't run away to save themselves but sprinted right into my lava.  They both jumped up off the couch and wrapped their arms around me even though it meant touching each other.  We stayed like that for a long time, and it felt good—almost enough to justify everything that had precipitated it, but not quite.
Imagination Designs