Amy Talkington's debut novel Liv, Forever is a book that I could not put down. It kept my attention throughout. It is an unusual ghost story filled with mystery and romance.
Liv's death happens early on in the book. I thought there would be more self-pity and constant questioning as to why it had to happen to her or why did it have to happen just as she was beginning to fall in love. The fact that the story didn't go that route made me like it even more. There was so much more happening and an interesting back story to Wickham Hall and the ghosts of Wickham Hall that there wasn't time to focus on that. There was a larger mystery to be solved.
Early on, readers will see that Liv isn't the only one who died an untimely death. We are given the back stories of other girls who now haunt Wickham Hall. Every few chapters there is a different girl's tale of how her life came to an end. This upped the creepiness factor of the book because it was told from the girl's perspective. And the girls begin to make appearances around Gabe and Liv, and more frequently once Liv becomes one of them.
I was always worried that Malcolm was going to be the sinister villain. He had all of the trappings - he was "the big man on campus", good-looking, admired by everyone, and a Wickham legacy. He was easily likeable, so of course I thought he was too good to be true. When was he going to betray Liv? When would we see his true colors? He always kept me guessing.
Liv, Forever was a book that I couldn't wait to finish, not that I wanted it to be over, but rather so I could share it with my friends. There is nothing more satisfying than when you are reading a book and while reading you know exactly who you want to share it with because they will absolutely love it. Liv, Forever is one such book. I'm definitely going to share it with my book club because it is a book that offers a lot to be discussed. (less)
His Hometown Girl is a sweet romance and lives up to the Harlequin title - Heartwarming. What I liked most about this book it that it is filled with real-life concerns and not perceived melodramas. Jodi is a single (divorced) mother trying to take care of her son in the best way she knows how. Daniel is a farm owner trying to keep it successful and prevent a corporate buy-out. Even though they have a past together, it doesn't overshadow the present.
I loved reading about the community of Cedar Bay and the people who lived there. Coming from a small-town myself, I am drawn to stories set in them. It was easy to vision all of the community events and Fourth-of-July fireworks and all of the towns' people.
I enjoyed the writing style and the alternating perspectives. Karen Rock did a great job of capturing Jodi's concerns and dilemmas without making them overwrought with angst. I liked reading Daniel's perspective because I could grasp his love for the land and the pride he felt in all that he did. I would have liked to read more romantic moments between Daniel and Jodi, but for the storyline and everything that was happening, the story had just the right amount.
This is one of the first books that I've read where autism was a focus of the story. I was enlightened from reading Jodi and Tyler's story and the various approaches to living with a child with autism. There were several moments in the book that highlighted the difficulties of dealing with other peoples' responses to autistic children. When Jodi was mad because of peoples' callousness, I was mad right along with her.
I really liked His Hometown Girl and plan to continue to read more of Karen's books. Daniel's sister, Sue, plays a major role in this book and I wouldn't mind reading more about her story. Well hers and a certain guitar-playing farm hand's.(less)
A quick Q&A: Did I like it reading it? Yes. Did it keep me interested throughout? Definitely. Did I see the twists coming? Yes. Some parts were predictable, but that didn't bother me. Do I think this book is for all readers? No. I think some readers will find the main characters unlikeable. Are likeable characters necessary for me to like a book? No.
It's really easy to pass judgement on the characters in Anything To Have You and find fault in many of the decisions that they make. But what needs to be asked is "what leads them to make these decisions in the first place?" I questioned the foundation of Natalie and Brooke's friendship from the very beginning - they've been friends since childhood, but by their actions, it was difficult to recognize a lifelong friendship. I saw this book as being more about their friendship growing apart which allowed both Natalie and Brooke to make the decisions that they did.
Brooke and Natalie both have damaged their relationship. Both are at fault. Both need to accept some of the blame. They both push limits to see: how far you can go without turning back and when can you admit when you are wrong. Anything To Have You isn't only about betrayal which does take up a major part of the book, but it is a story about forgiveness, not redemption, and moving forward and moving on.
I liked the alternating points of view because it allowed my to see both Natalie and Brooke's perspectives and motivations. However, the first part of the book seemed very one sided and to be more from Natalie's perspective. Readers who like to root for a character may lean toward rooting for Natalie more and that isn't fair to Brooke and everything that she goes through.
This book isn't for all readers. If your books have to contain likeable characters, then you might have a hard time reading this book. But if you want to read a book about changing friendships, the inner workings of high school dynamics, and a forbidden and unexpected love story, then you should give Anything To Have You a chance.
This is the first book that I've read by Paige Harbison, but it won't be the last.(less)
As a fan of reality TV and competition shows and a fan of Laurie's debut novel, Blaze, I knew that her new book was going to be one fun ride. I expected many laughs while reading The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High and that is exactly what I got. Laurie had me hooked from the very beginning, when Shannon unwittingly and naively agrees to participate in the hidden-camera reality TV show.
In The Real Prom Queens, Laurie takes bits and pieces of reality shows to create this outlandish reality show: The Prom Queen Wannabes! As I continued to read, it was one laughable disaster after another and build-up after build-up knowing that it wasn't going to end well. But for every moment that is meant to make the reader laugh, we also get to find out about the behind the scenes manipulations that all but destroy the participants of the reality show competition.
The wannabe characters Shannon, Amy, and Kelly were fun to read. They weren't so different from everyone that you would want to be friends with. They just weren't high on the Prom Queen social ladder. What I really liked about their interactions was that there was a level of comraderie in their status. They were competition with each-other for the title of Prom Queen and the "One! Million! Dollar!" prize, but real friendships were built out of their common experience.
I loved the "supporting" cast/characters too. Josie, Shannon's popular younger sister, Marnie, the corporation and label-hating BFF, and the nerdy and cute, love interest, Rick, kept it interesting. Even the mean-girl competition, Grace, was run to read. She kept me guessing in how she was going to ruin Shannon next.
The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High was very entertaining and fun. It was easy to see that there isn't any reality in reality-tv. Even though this story isn't about a real person's experience with reality-tv competition, it still shows how easy it is to get swept up in the supposed glamour of being on television and the lengths a show's creator will go to create a story or create chaos for ratings and something that "makes good television."
Fans of Libba Bray's Beauty Queens should check this out.(less)
I first learned of The One Left Behind when a friend recommended it to me. I started to read it right after I purchased it, but after I reading a few...moreI first learned of The One Left Behind when a friend recommended it to me. I started to read it right after I purchased it, but after I reading a few chapters I knew I wasn't ready to have my heart ripped out of my chest just yet, (sometimes you have to prepare yourself for stories like that) so I held off. When this blog tour came along, I was ready to finish it. I'd just finished a few light-hearted books and was ready to tackle the heavy. And it was just that.
The One Left Behind was told in dual perspectives which I enjoyed a lot. And while is told in dual perspectives, and the synopsis led me to believe that it would be more of Colin's story about what happened, I read it as though it was more of Addison's story. As she was creating a new life for herself, I got to see all of the new experiences she was having as she tried to move on with her life after her tragic accident.
My heart broke for Colin as he began to realize that his life was changed forever because of Addison's memory loss. His memories of their life together and the love that they shared, followed by his downward spiral is difficult to read because you begin to realize that he really was losing the love of life. This isn't something that I even want to imagine experiencing. I rooted for him as he tried to make sense of it all.
As I read, I continued to wonder when was Addison going to get her memories back or even if she would ever get her memory back. Would it come back in glimpses, would they seem like echoes? What was going to be the trigger? No spoilers here, but it was a doozy that's for sure, and it will leave readers thinking, "Did that just happen?" Oh yes and did! And you have to read the next book to learn what happened next. Most times I would be put off when I story ends with a cliff-hanger, but I knew beforehand (thanks to the same friend who recommended the book), so I didn't mind so much. Plus, it just builds the suspense for the next book.
Even through the heartache and heartbreak, I enjoyed reading The One Left Behind and look forward to reading what will happen next for Colin and Addison.(less)
When writing my reviews of Temptation and Belonging, I found it difficult to share my thoughts about the books without revealing too much. It is the same with Forever. So this is my warning: This review gets a little spoilery - so read at your own risk.
As soon as I finished the last page of Belonging (book 2) I wanted to know how Rose and Noah's story was going to play out. Throughout the series, I had conflicting feelings about whether they should be together or not. I love a happily-ever-after, but I am fine if it doesn't happen for the main characters too if it suits the story being told. Honestly, when I started Forever, I could see the story going either way, but then the title wouldn't be accurate. So I knew how it was going to end, and realized that the getting there part was what really mattered.
Like the other books in the series, Forever is told in multiple points of view of Noah, Rose, Sam, and now Sarah, Noah's younger sister and Rose's friend. Adding this new perspective lets readers know how Rose and Noah's Amish/English relationship affects everyone else in the community. In Belonging, Sarah and Rose built a strong relationship as Rose tried to become Amish. She became a prominent character, so it seemed right to know more of story from Sarah's perspective.
Just as in the other books, Noah and Rose are initially kept apart until Noah makes a drastic decision for the sake of his relationship with Rose and also his family. There wasn't as much of the dramatic push and pull of Noah and Rose's relationship as in the first books and I liked that. Instead, there were new experiences for them to deal with as Noah steps out of the Amish community and begins living among the English. It was really interesting to read how he dealt with being away from the lifestyle he was accustomed to just as Rose had in Belonging. This was something that I had an issue with in the previous books and I was glad to know of the sacrifices Noah would make for Rose.
There were some pretty intense moments in Forever that had me completely on edge. In the book description, there is the statement "there's a storm on the horizon" and there is, literally. Without revealing what happens (other than there is a storm), I do want to say that Hopkins's description of how the storm builds and progresses is terrifying and made me anxious while reading it. And then the aftermath of the storm, just devastating.
When a series comes to an end, there can be a lot of expectations if the book will end the way that you want it to. I try to not take that approach and ask "is this how it is supposed to end?" With Forever, I would say that the answer is yes. With all of the anticipation and the will they, won't they, should they, shouldn't they, Forever ended perfectly.
I really enjoyed reading this entire series for the writing, the characters, and all of the questions that I had while reading it. I was originally hesitant to start this series because of the Amish storyline (which I realize now is completely stupid of me), but I'm glad that I didn't overlook it because I would have missed out on a wonderful story, an incredible reading experience, and an author whose work I love more and more with each book. (less)
I like to read seasonally (if a book is set in the winter, I read it in the winter. If it is set in the summer, I read it in the summer), so even thou...moreI like to read seasonally (if a book is set in the winter, I read it in the winter. If it is set in the summer, I read it in the summer), so even though Christmas has passed, readers will still enjoy this winter story.
I love novel companion stories and novellas and Camp Christmas lets readers get to know more about Hannah who first appeared in Camp Boyfriend. Camp Christmas gave me more insight to how Hannah became the mean girl, why she stayed the mean girl, and why it's a reputation she wants to shake but isn't sure if she can. Through the story, we see the power of secrets and the power in secrets.
Readers also get to know about Camp Boyfriend's supporting character Julian. Honestly I didn't remember much about him from book, but I got to know him here and he was a fun character to read. He's smart and witty and has that special something that you want to know more about (and Hannah did too). He's the kind of guy you want to have around with things get crazy.
I really enjoyed Camp Christmas and it makes me want to read even more books by J.K Rock.(less)
Smart and Sexy - that is Sneaking Candy. Lisa Burstein has given us something delightfully different with her New Adult Romance. I'm a huge fan of Lisa's novels Pretty Amy and Dear Cassie, and now Sneaking Candy is added to my "favorites" list.
How it's smart: Sneaking Candy is a book that I would have liked to read in an academic setting, possibly in my Popular Fiction class. With this novel, Lisa exposes the world of author hierarchy and prompts the discussion of who determines the value of literature. Is it the readers? Other writers? Does a wide fan-base equal success or does a book have to make it to a world-wide recognized best-seller list to be successful?
How it's sexy: Sneaking Candy is filled with chemistry and tension between Candice and Professor Dylan and Candice and James and when Candy sneaks in there (pun intended), you better watch out because it gets all steamy. Naughty times! Oh James and your tight, white t-shirts, where have you been all my life?
Sneaking Candy was a fun book to read with so many oh-my-goodness and laugh out loud moments. I liked reading how the main character saw herself separately as Candice, the grad student, writer, teaching assistant and as Candy, the naughty, impulsive, erotic romance author, and her recognition that she didn't have to be two separate personalities. Reading Candice embrace her Candy side were some of the best moments of the book. And her roommate and friend Amanda, aka Mandy, was the perfect sidekick to Candice's Candy. That girl needs her story told!
I loved Sneaking Candy. If you are looking for something funny, fresh, smart, and sexy, then this is the book for you!(less)
Ever since Made of Stars cover reveal appeared in my blog feed, I've wanted to read it. The stunning cover caught my attention and the synopsis kept it. I love character driven stories and Kelley York is a new-to-me author so that was another reason I wanted to read it.
One of the many things that I like about Made of Stars is the sibling relationship between Hunter and Ashlin. I don't think that I've read any other story about half-siblings who were not raised in the same household, and this dynamic helped to shape the story. They looked forward to no longer spending time apart. I think a lot of this had to do with they both were escaping environments where there was a level of expectation - to keep it together, to maintain, and they saw each other as freedom.
Another thing that I liked about Made of Stars is that it is written in alternating points of view. This writing technique is a favorite of mine, but it really suits this story because we get to read the inner struggles of both Hunter and Ashlin. Both of them are at pivotal points in their lives - graduating high school and preparing for college, falling in and out of love, but also we get to understand how their relationships with Chance are changing and what they think about that.
What affected me most about this story was the idea of how can you help someone who won't receive your help. Hunter and Ashlin know that Chance needs their help but he is evasive, defensive, and elusive which leads to a lot of inaction on Hunter and Ashlin's part. When is the right time to take a stance, to step in, to make someone accept your help? And when is it too late? Made of Stars had me asking a lot of questions - mainly what would I do?
I really enjoyed this book a lot. It may not have come across clearly in this review, but it was definitely worth reading. It kept me captivated from start to finish. I recommend this book for readers who like character driven stories, alternate POVs, and don't mind reading books that leave you with just as many questions as answers.
Disclaimer: I requested this novel for review from NetGalley and this review is based on the Advance Readers Copy. I did not receive any compensation for providing this review other than the ARC provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own(less)