I've noticed recently that more and more books about military families and relationships have been published. There are so many people with family memI've noticed recently that more and more books about military families and relationships have been published. There are so many people with family members, friends, and acquaintances in the military that we are all involved in one way or another. In If I Know It's Coming, we get to see how the life of one young teen and his family are affected when his mother, a nurse in the Army Reserve is called to duty.
I enjoyed reading this book and seeing this experience from a teenager's viewpoint. Tim is in the seventh grade, plays baseball, and just may have a crush on the daughter of his parents' friends, Nicole. The story begins with Tim's mother already in Iraq for several months. His father is there, but distracted and his sister is moody with random outbursts of anger. Tim's struggling with his mother's absence and when he tries to talk to his best friend Seth about it, he just doesn't understand. He brushes Tim's worries aside because he'd rather thing about sports or video games. How Tim navigates through these strained relationships are the major focus of the story.
If I Know It's Coming touches on many ideas. Why do people join the military? Why are our soldiers fighting in this war? What does it mean to have a sense of duty? How long will your military be in Iraq? What I appreciated most about the questions and how they were approached was that is wasn't in a preaching or judgmental tone. They were asked from a place of sincerity which I believe would allow for an open dialogue about these topics. It's not about right or wrong and should or should not. It is about this is how it is and how we respond to it, deal with it, and live with it as a reality.
This story does have a somber tone to it, but it is not all serious. There are moments of teenage awkwardness and humor that made this story endearing. While it is a middle-grade read, it is a book for teenagers, adults, and everyone in between. It would be a great book to read as a family. I enjoyed it and will recommend it again and again....more
Why I wanted to read Wild Girls (from my Waiting on Wednesday post):
a coming-of-age story set in a small Appalachian town a brilliant twist on the anWhy I wanted to read Wild Girls (from my Waiting on Wednesday post):
a coming-of-age story set in a small Appalachian town a brilliant twist on the anger teenage girls can feel at their powerlessness
Wild Girls exceeded any expectations that I had (which were pretty high). It wasn't the angst-filled drama that description led me to believe it to be. It is part mystery, part coming-of-age and very intense throughout. Anticipating when the wild girls may appear and what brought them about was enough to keep my on edge for most of the time I was reading it. Up until the very end, I didn't really know what the wild girls were for sure. Were they possessed by some higher dark power? Were they witches learning their own strengths and abilities? Or were they just menacing girls acting out for attention? I was guessing, pondering, and speculating throughout and not knowing for sure was just as thrilling as realizing what they were.
Wild Girls takes place at a boarding school in the small desolate town of Swan River. It would seem to be an unusual place to send the daughters of wealthy families before sending them off to college or out into society. It's not the most prestigious school or the most sophisticated town, but it has it's own history and its own backwoods culture. The setting was crucial to the story and it began to seem as though Swan River was its own character playing an active role in what happened to these girls.
One of my favorite parts of Wild Girls was the folklore strung throughout and the use of histories and ancient myths. Even the stories of the wild girls who murdered people or set places on fire, were passed down through years and years of oral history. Tales told by someone who saw what happened or knew someone who was a wild girl, but never from the wild girls themselves. These second party accounts always kept them a mystery - never to be completely understood. And still what I didn't like was that Kate knew someone who became a wild girl, her sister - Maggie, and she couldn't ever get a complete explanation of why she turned.
As I said before Wild Girls is part mystery, part thriller, and part coming of age. But I think at the core of it, Wild Girls takes a close examination at relationships. Whether they are familial, romantic, or friendships - they are filled with expectations, disappointments, compromise, and acceptance. Kate is the focus of many of these relationships and seeing her navigate through them and find her place and find herself was worth every moment spent reading this book.
Wild Girls is more wonderful than I've put into words here. I'd recommend it to any fan of mythology, folklore, mystery, young adult, and Appalachian literature. It would be a great book club selection and I will be recommending it to mine.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way other than the book provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own. ...more
This review started out to be just about Double Clutch, but there are mentions to the other books in the Brenna Blixen series. Don’t worry - there are no spoilers to the follow-up books.
Double Clutch is a story about finding love, but it neither plain or simple. On her first day back to school, Brenna meets two very interesting and very different boys, Jake and Saxon. I wouldn’t say that she is boy crazy, but she is all about these two boys. This is straight up about a love triangle, but the story is more than how she decides which one she likes the most.
Brenna is a fun girl - smart, creative, witty and has a lot going for her. And the boys are smart too, and sexy and mysterious - definitely appealing to fifteen year old Brenna.
There’s Parental Involvement. At first, I was just a little bit annoyed by Brenna’s mom which was completely uncalled for because she was a caring and involved, and it is realistic portrayal. She had a strong influence over a lot of Brenna’s decisions and even made many for her. I’m just so used to the absent parent or utterly flawed parent in many books that I read (and they do exist in Double Clutch too through other characters).
Things I loved: Brenna, Jake, Saxon - those are a given. Her self-designed T-Shirts - I want to see them! Characters who are always reading (when they weren’t kissing). There are many books mentioned and discussed. ALL OF THE KISSING. Liz Reinhardt writes some of the best kissing scenes EVER!
Things I didn’t love so much: The continuity seemed off - this is a reference to other books of the series. There were events that seemed to happen within days of each other, but then you were supposed to believe that it happened weeks before or weeks after. This was distracting but not a deal breaker.
Double Clutch is just the beginning of the wide ride for this series. I’ve already read the other 2 books: Junk Miles and Slow Twitch, and am in love with their story and hope that there will be more. I was entertained and got caught up in Brenna’s life and friendships. There is a lot of kissing and reading and making out and traveling and fighting and sneaking out and kissing and sneaking in and even more kissing. The series evolves to be more than just a love triangle as new characters are introduced and new friendships and relationships are formed.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the e-book version which I purchased for my personal library. I was not compensated in any way for providing this review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
I hadn't planned on reviewing On the Island. I thought that it would be a quick, summer read - another book in my ever growing TBR pile that I would read and then move on from. But after finishing it at 5 a.m. this morning because I just could not put it down (thank goodness I'm on vacation), I can't stop thinking about it. I had a 4 hour car ride today and it occupied my thoughts the entire time.
T.J. and Anna share their own experiences of living and surviving on the island in alternating chapters. This method of story-telling propelled the story ahead in a way that let me know so much about both characters - their thoughts, fears, desires. At times, the voices of both characters were similar in that there wasn't much that distinguished T.J.'s voice (teen male) from Anna's (31 yr old female). A few times, I would refer to the chapter heading to learn who the speaker was supposed to be. This wasn't a distraction and didn't take away from the story in any way. T.J. did sound a bit older than a 16 or 17 year old, but after learning about his struggle with cancer and some life-altering decisions that he made during that time, it is understandable that he sounded older beyond his years. But there are instances, and many of them that remind, me that he is a teenager full of hormones and angst. He is a character who any reader could easily fall in love with!
Going into the novel, I really didn't question the relationship that was destined to develop between Anna and T.J. I just wanted to know how it was all going to play out so that it didn't feel inappropriate. Let me just say author was very smart about how she developed their relationship. I don't want to give anything away because it is crucial to the story development, but I'll admit that I thought it would've happened sooner than it did and I actually wanted it to happen sooner. There is a lot of genuine love and concern between Anna and T.J. and it is easy to believe that they were brought together by more than mere circumstance.
As much as I loved the characters and their story, I cannot say that the book doesn't have it's flaws. A few times when Anna and T.J. were in need of something for survival and even their existence, they would happen upon them easily. And there is an incident involving a shark that I found to be unrealistic, not impossible, but I wasn't buying it. Still, these minor faults (as I see them) didn't take away the enjoyment I had while reading On the Island.
This story was very satisfying. I loved it. I understand the hype about it and highly recommend it. I would warn readers that they should start it early in the day because if not, they will be reading it in the wee hours of the morning.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author by way of a twitter giveaway. A review was not requested. This review is based on the self-published edition of On the Island. The book has since been published by Penguin. I was not compensated for providing a review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
She was experiencing her first love. He had found his forever love.
As someone who doesn't like spoilers, there are very few times when I want to skip to the very end of a book to read the ending. After reading just the back cover and the preface, I wanted to do just that. I had to know what was going to happen with Noah and Rose. I didn't skip to the end and I am thankful that I didn't because I think I would have missed on all of the anticipation of this compelling story.
The chapters alternate from both Rose and Noah's perspectives sharing the characters thoughts and emotions of their relationship. I was immediately drawn to Rose and her rowdy disposition. She is the middle sibling with two brothers who she is constantly bickering with. It is during one of these fights with her younger brother, that she first meets Noah. They are instantly intrigued with each other because of their differences. Noah is calm and quiet - not like any teenaged boy she knows. Rose is loud and lively - the complete opposite of the girls in his Amish community where boys and girls are kept separate until they begin courting.
Hopkins gives a lot of insight into the Amish community with her detailed descriptions. The Rose chapters offered the outsiders perspective into this community that seemed so unusual and whose ideas were somewhat primitive. The Noah chapters painted a different portrait - one of custom, but both communicated the overwhelming sense of calmness and order. At first I wanted to read through the descriptive parts and would seek out the dialogue and action, but then I realized these descriptions served a larger purpose in helping understand the Amish ways and how that related to the overall story. It was as though the Amish community was its own character and affected Rose and Noah's relationship.
Rose and Noah's relationship got pretty intense very quickly. The bashful glances and hidden smiles, quickly became secret meet-ups and hand-holding, and then passionate kisses, all forbidden in the Amish world, but worth attempting again and again. Hopkins captures these moments so sweetly that there were times I felt I had butterflies in my stomach. One of my favorite moments that did make me flutter a bit was when Noah's family invited Rose's family to dinner to welcome them to Meadowview and they have just bowed their heads for a moment of silent prayer:
"Everyone in the room followed suit, and so did I, cheating a little bit when I glanced up with my eyes, without raising my head much, to spy on Noah. I quickly put my head back down after seeing he was staring at me with eyes wide open and his head only partially bowed. I could have sworn, before I looked away, that he had grinned at me." (pg. 46)
Yet with every one of these special moments, there is another moment (or person) reminding Rose and Noah why they can't be together. As Rose was beginning to experience her first love, she had all of this idealist perspective that they would make their relationship work. Noah, who thought he had found his forever love, was desperate to find a way, any way, to keep them together.
* * * *
I'm afraid that if I keep sharing my thoughts I'm going to reveal too much. I need to avoid those spoilers that I first mentioned at the beginning of the post. I enjoyed reading Temptation more than could have ever expected. Their story is intense and passionate and overwhelming. I'd think that anyone who likes contemporary YA romance would enjoy this book.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way other than the book provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own....more
When I first heard about Jersey Angel, I desperately wanted to read it. I loved the fun summertime cover and the premise sounded promising. Then the grumblings started and low starred reviews were popping up. I would gloss over the reviews reading a comment here or there, but never a complete review because I didn't want my decision to read Jersey Angel and my opinion of the book to be swayed entirely. But I did decide that it wasn't an immediate "must-read" for me. I could take it or leave it. So when I received the Jersey Angel from Random Buzzers, I had to take a moment and reconsider because there must be something about this book worth talking about if they are putting it in the hands of their Ambuzzadors (ambassadors) to share.
Jersey Angel had me from the get go. Once I picked it up, I just couldn't put it down. And when I did, I couldn't wait to get back to it. Bauman's writing style is quick, descriptive, and immediately pulled me in.
This book is not for everyone. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. But I'm not indifferent to it either. Beth Ann Bauman has written a book that I want to talk about. Her character Angel is unlike many others in many books I've read because she is very sexually active teenager. Sex in young adult books isn't unheard of. Like most readers, I get swept up in the romance of young love and with the anticipation of will they or won't they. And often we want it to happen. I mean, just look at all of the Twilight readers who stuck through the whole series to see Bella and Edward finally get together. (I am one of them) The difference with Jersey Angel is that, while it isn't graphically described, there is quite a bit of sex throughout the novel. Also, Angel doesn't always make the best choices in who she does have sex with. She does cross the line, in my opinion, and I certainly wouldn't want her to be my best friend. But I am a little forgiving of the characters I read. I wanted to see where her decisions would lead her and what would happen with her friendships.
There is also a level on confusion that Angel experiences as a result of her sexual relationships. She wants to get back with her on-again off-again boyfriend, Joey, but he has other plans. She is just beginning to realize how her actions can affect her future relationships and what people think about her. Bauman only touches the surface of these new feelings Angel is experiencing leaving many situations unsettled. The story ended a little too abruptly for me. I could have imagined a little more resolve than what was given.
Like I said before, this book isn't for everyone. But I do think that readers should forget what they think they know about Jersey girls from watching The Jersey Shore (they really don't compare) and give Jersey Angel a chance.
Other books recommended: Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky and The DUFF by Kody Keplinger.
Disclaimer: I received this advanced reading copy for review from Random Buzzers/Random House. Thoughts and opinions are my own....more