Full disclosure: I mainly picked this one up because it was recommended for Katie McGarry fans (LOVE her) and it was a cheap Kindle snag. Luckily, Put It out There turned out to be one of those impulse buys that didn't leave me with regret. In fact, I immediately pre-ordered the other two books in the series which will be out later this year. I'm thrilled not to have to wait a year or more to find out what happens with Derian.
Derian is a seventeen year old girl who lives with her grandfather in a crumbling inn in Britannia Beach, British Columbia, Canada. Deri, as she is known by her friends and family, loves the inn with every fiber of her being. All of her childhood memories are in the crumbling paint and leaky pipes. She can't imagine the inn not belonging to her grandfather, but the developers are swarming like sharks in chum filled water; they want to tear the inn down to build a resort. Deri can't let go and begs her grandfather to keep the inn. She feels its the last link she has to her father who recently died in a car accident. Her mother, unable to drive the stretch of highway where her husband drew his last breath, stubbornly remains in Vancouver. Deri doesn't want to live in the city, but if the inn is gone, she'll have no choice. She launches a campaign to do whatever it takes to save her home.
In addition to trying to hold her family together as best she can, Deri is also dealing with normal teenage issues. For example, she's in love with her next door neighbor, Trevor. Deri isn't sure that Trevor will ever see her as more than a little sister figure, but she hopes for more. There is just one problem - Deri has little dating experience and she's not sure how to clue Trevor in that her affection is more than just friendship. It's always difficult to navigate the rocky terrain of friendship turned romance. I felt for Deri as she constantly tries to figure out how to talk to Trevor about her feelings and he keeps pulling away. It's clear that they both value their friendship deeply. Romance between friends can be a great foundation, but it can also lead to ruin if the romance falls apart. I'm interested to see how things will develop between this pair as the series progresses as nothing is truly resolved for them in this novel. If I have my way, they'll end up together and blissfully happy.
While Deri is sorting out her feelings for Trevor, she is being pursued by a handsome classmate, Steve. Eventually, after Trevor leaves for a five month stint in Iceland, Deri agrees to Steve's request and becomes his girlfriend. Her first real relationship isn't without its difficulties - especially because Deri can't seem to shake Trevor out of her heart and mind. I was rooting for Steve in the beginning, but I wasn't a fan of how he changed throughout the novel.
Deri is one of those characters that burrows into your heart. I saw a lot of my teen self in her. She's somewhat shy, but underneath that she's resilient and fiercely loyal. She loves deeply, is passionate about books, and always puts her family first. Deri is a dedicated student and the sort of friend we could all use in our lives.
In addition to the romance, I love the emphasis on friendship. Deri has strong relationships with females and males. I loved the support system she has built for herself.
The family dynamic was interesting and complicated. Deri's relationship with her grandfather was strong, but her relationship with her mother is less stable. The pair can't move past their grief long enough to find common ground. I hope that as the series progresses, Deri and her mother can mend their wounds together. I also loved watching Trevor interact with his sister.
Grief was a theme that permeated this novel. Deri's family is still reeling from her father's death and another character will deal with a death in the family during the novel. I think Graham handled this theme well.
Lastly, this one has a touch of magical realism to it that I wasn't expecting. Deri has visions that help her see things that haven't happened yet. At times, the visions are minor, such as seeing her mother need a pair of scissors to cut something. Other times, her visions are portents of danger like the time she saw her father's accident before it happened, but was helpless to prevent it. Trevor wants Deri to learn to sharpen her skills concerning the visions. He believes with practice, she can use the visions to prevent tragedies.
All in all, I enjoyed my time in Britannia Beach. I loved the characters in this one and I can't wait to see what's in store for them moving forward. I also enjoyed the setting; I was thrilled to learn its a real place. I've added it to my travel bucket list.
One Last Gripe: My biggest issue with this one was the pacing. There were some elements that dragged out while others went too fast.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved the Christmas chapters.
First Sentence: Summer was officially over, and even though all the families who spent their vacation at the Inn had packed up and gone home, the dining room was crowded for our famous homemade breakfast buffet.
Favorite Character: Deri
Least Favorite Character: The shady developer...more
I was craving a little summer reading before I dove into my next ARC and I stumbled upon this title while reading an article about mermaid stories. Mermaids have long captured my imagination, so purchasing this little gem was a no brainer. I'm also super excited to read The Book of Speculation after devouring this short story. Erika Swyler's use of language and imagery is gorgeous.
I was expecting this to be about a mythical sort of mermaid, but instead it focuses on Paulina, a wife and mother who used to be the mermaid at a traveling carnival. Once she meets her Daniel, she trades in her green sequined tail for a wedding ring. The pair settle down in a house by the sea and have two children. Paulina suffers from horrible headaches that interfere with her daily life. She seems lonely and longs for the life she once had.
This short story focuses on who Paulina is and how she ended up in her current state. This is a prequel to The Book of Speculation. The novel focuses on Simon, the son of Paulina and Daniel.
If you're interested in a small summery morsel of a read that is character driven and beautifully written, I highly recommend picking this up. The emotions in this one are tangible and captivating.
One Last Gripe: I loved this story, but it wasn't long enough for me to become truly invested in the characters.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The beautiful writing
First Sentence: When evening crawled in, Paulina was lying in bed, watching a migraine's oily blind spot drop across her field of vision, remembering the years of hand-stitching sequins.
Favorite Character: Paulina
Least Favorite Character: I didn't have one....more
I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan and want to pass on that love to my new little one. In utero, my son listened to me read aloud from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. After we got home and settled, we dove into the Hogwarts Library collection. I love our bedtime ritual which always includes reading of some sort from both me and my husband. This little book was a particular favorite of mine as I was fascinated to learn more about the creatures that inhabit the HP universe while spending quality time with my baby. I can't wait to reread this when he's old enough to enjoy it as much as Mommy.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is meant to be a textbook for the students at Hogwarts, so it reads a bit like an encyclopedia of sorts. Each beast is described in detail and includes little stories and antidotes. I enjoyed visualizing some of the more rare creatures.
Furthermore, my edition has notes throughout that were written by Harry, Hermione, and Ron. These little additions made the read special as it was fun to see how the characters responded to reading the same book. I also loved the foreward written by Albus Dumbledore.
This is an essential item for any Potter lover's library. I also am so excited to see the movie based on Newt Scamander's travels.
One Last Gripe: I would have liked illustrations to accompany the text about each beast.
Favorite Thing About The Book: Spending time in the Potter universe
First Sentence: I was deeply honoured when Newt Scamander asked me to write the foreword for this very special edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them....more
I enjoyed the first few books of the House of Night series, so I thought I'd give this new series by Kristin Cast a go. I was also drawn to the premise. The Underworld is facing a severe crisis as some of the worst evil beings in history have escaped Tartarus and have fled into the modern world. The only hope humanity has left is Alek, the son of the Furies, and Eva, a human who is a descendant of Pythia, one of the most famous oracles in Greek mythology.
This sounds awesome, right? I was beyond excited to get to this one on my reading schedule. Perhaps I placed my expectations too high. While the premise has tons of potential, the execution fell flat for me. I didn't connect with the characters and the dialogue felt fake. I don't know many people who talk like these characters. I found myself irked by the dialogue throughout the entire novel. I kept rolling my eyes at the asinine comments; it felt juvenile and detracted from the seriousness of the plot.
I did keep plodding along in spite of not loving the novel. There is merit here, for sure, but this novel didn't hold my interest. There were some twists that perked me up, but the overall reading experience was just average.
The Greek mythology components were intriguing and I found that I preferred reading the segments with the Furies. The modern scenes were not as strong. I also struggled with the pacing; it felt slow as if I was trudging through honey. There was a considerable amount of things happening that should have created a frenzy of activity, but I didn't get that feeling from the pacing. I wanted things to move along at a faster clip rather than staying mired in the exposition.
All in all, this was an okay read, but I am not sure I will continue with the series. I can't justify spending my reading time with a series that didn't keep me riveted. I loved the idea behind this one and I do feel this will appeal to some readers, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. I'm hoping Cast will introduce more action in the next novel as this novel truly felt like all world building and exposition. I also crave more of her Underworld writing. I feel is she had infused that intensity into the modern scenes, I would have enjoyed this more. I was frustrated when I had to be pulled back to the modern realm.
One Last Gripe: There was no closure in the ending.
Favorite Thing About the Book: The prologue
First Sentence: The ancients knew them as the Furies, seekers of justice.
Favorite Character: Maiden
Least Favorite Character: Bridget - she annoyed me almost every time she opened her mouth...more
Gretchen has been living in New York City her whole life, but she dreams of rural New York and the ancestral home her family has owned for generations. Her mother grew up there, but moved away as a small child. Gretchen's mother has made her living by researching spirit photography and running a gallery that specializes in gothic art. Life was good for Gretchen until her mother disappeared. She can't reconcile that her mother left the family on purpose, but thinking of her mother dead also doesn't sit well with Gretchen. She throws herself into trying to find any trace of her mom while her father flocks to distance locales to provide his medical skills to poor areas.
Everything begins to change when Gretchen's great aunt, Esther, contacts her about inheriting the Axton mansion. Another routine summer in the city pales in comparison to exploring her mother's childhood home, so Gretchen packs up and heads off to upstate New York. She arrives to find the house in a derelict state and her aunt's mental stability fading. Her first evening at the house is confusing, terrifying, and tragic. Gretchen soon learns that she has inherited a lot more than a crumbling mansion. It is now her responsibility to put to rest old ghosts and solve a family mystery.
Gretchen finds allies in the Green siblings - Hawk and Hope. The trio communicates with ghosts, delves into old archives, and seeks to find answers before the anniversary of a tragedy brings more death to the town.
The novel goes back and forth between past and present as the mystery unfolds. Letters, diary entries, and photographs from the 1860's provide clues to help the trio in their quest. Due to the time period, racial conflict plays a prominent role in the story. These segments were heartbreaking and difficult to read. Sadly, they were all too historically accurate. It also saddens me to think that we haven't made nearly enough progress in race equality in the modern era.
I don't want to speak about the paranormal aspect too much as it would provide spoilers, but I did find it intriguing and chilling. Olson does an amazing job of describing the paranormal elements. I certainly had trouble reading this one at night without my imagination running away from me.
My biggest complaint with this novel was the pacing. The premise was appealing and the overall story is promising, but the execution fell flat for me. Everything seemed to be happening on fast forward which left me with questions. I didn't feel like I got all my answers or was able to settle into the story before being pulled into a different direction. It all happens so quickly that making connections with the characters was impossible for me. I didn't dislike Gretchen, Hope, and Hawk, but I don't feel that I truly got to know them either. I also felt like the ending came together a little too easily.
One Last Gripe: I felt the contemporary components were not as strong as the historical ones at times.
Favorite Thing About This Book: the historical aspects
First Sentence: Her mother had said the house was built by ancestors.
Addie Emerson is a teen genius who is obsessed with the brain. She spends her days reading neuroscience journal articles and focusing on her experiment. Addie strongly believes that she can force people to fall in love by putting them into dangerous situations. Her first successful matchmaking scheme brought together her best friend, Tess, and Ed, a guy who had been pining for her, but had been largely ignored. Addie is attempting to recreate her results with new subjects in order to compete for a prestigious scholarship that will make her shoo in for Harvard acceptance.
On her way back to her prestigious boarding school, Addie meets Kris during a particularly scary flight full of turbulence and a cabin fire. Addie feels an instant attraction to Kris, but she convinces herself it's all due to the adrenaline coursing through her veins due to the flight. She soon learns that Kris attends the same school as her, but she can't quite place why she knows him. Once the pair ends up on the ground, Addie invites Kris to tag along with her back to campus. Tess and Ed are less than thrilled to see Kris as they know that he was involved in the lab vandalism last school year. The vandalism felt like a personal attack against Addie and her lab partner, Dexter. Tess fears how Addie will react once she figures out Kris' identity.
Addie and Kris form a fragile truce as he becomes one of her test subjects in her experiment. As the two are around one another more and more, their relationship evolves.
I did find that Addie was hard to like at times. She was so smart and literal that there were moments when she was off-putting. In many ways, Addie is socially awkward which makes it difficult to connect with her. I also had moments where I felt inadequate because Addie's science jargon went right over my head. I glazed over when she got into specifics about her experiment and neuroscience. Her relationships with Tess, Ed, and Kris make her seem more relatable.
Overall, this is a sweet, cute contemporary that is full of the typical charm I expect from a Strohmeyer novel. I can't read her stuff without a smile. While this one isn't my favorite Strohmeyer novel (that honor is still held by Smart Girls Get What They Want), I did enjoy it and would recommend it to those who enjoy a clean, sweet summery romance. The blurb relates this one to Jane Austen's Emma, which I think is spot on now that I have finished it. Although, I don't think Emma used science to help in her matchmaking skills.
One Last Gripe: I was frustrated by the relationship between Addie and Dexter.
Favorite Things About This Book: The strong friendships and the humor
First Sentence: It is an accepted scientific fact that the brain of the average adolescent male thinks about girls every seven heartbeats.
This one is my favorite of the two coloring books I was sent. I have long been enamored with the ocean and its beings - both realistic and mythical. Like the previous book, this one is jam packed with beautiful, detailed drawings that are only on the front side of pages. It's easy to use markers or colored pencils in this book as a result. A variety of underwater creatures, mermaids, and ocean quotations litter the pages. This is a lovely book to have in your coloring book collection and will help you pass the time as the dark winter days linger and your brain is wishing for a warmer climate. I plan to spend even more time with this beauty when my stress levels rise. ...more
I received this one first and couldn't wait to get started. I love the whimsical and mystical designs in this one. There are a variety of pages to color. My favorite thing about this one is that the images are not on the front and back of the page. This means I can use markers instead of colored pencils if I so choose. Typically, I can't use markers because many coloring books have images on both sides of the page and markers tend to bleed through. My favorite image in this one was of a woman in a flapper style outfit surrounded by feathers. This coloring book is full of beautiful, creative illustrations that will provide you with hours of entertainment and stress relief....more
The Titanic tragedy has long held my fascination. As a kid, I read everything I could find on the subject and was riveted by the footage of Robert Ballard's discovery of the wreckage. As I aged, I continued to learn as much as possible about the voyage and the passengers. I spent countless hours reading and watching documentaries. As a teen, I was overjoyed that Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were going to bring the story to life on the big screen. The sinking haunted me in many ways. As an adult, I have been to see artifacts in museums and continued my research and reading.
I have long been curious about the mysterious ship that many mentioned in their recollections of the events in April of 1912. Many survivors told of a ship in the near distance that never responded to the calls for help. David Dyer brings the story of that ship, The Californian, to light in this novel. Dyer has done a vast amount of research to make sure the story rings with authenticity. I was pleased to learn more about an event that has captivated my mind and to see the aftermath from a different perspective.
The Midnight Watch is told from two main perspectives: the crew from the Californian and John Steadman, a Boston based reporter. The crew segments focus on what they saw and did on the night of the sinking as well as the attempts to cover up anything that could be viewed as negligent. This component of the novel was heartbreaking as I couldn't help wondering how events may have unfolded if the ship had responded to Titanic's flares or SOS messages. Would more lives have been saved? This is a terrible burden to bear and the real crew members must have suffered from terrible guilt. History has never truly determined the extent to which Captain Lord and his ship can be blamed. Ethics becomes a dominant theme throughout this novel. As the novel progresses, readers also experience the tragedy through the eyes of a family from third class.
I enjoyed the style in which the narrative unfolds. It was intriguing to go back and forth between the conflict on the ship and Steadman's quest for answers. I enjoyed learning more about journalism in this time period.
My one small complaint is that there is a lot to wade through in the beginning of the novel. The pace of the novel starts to gain momentum around the halfway mark.
Dyer's novel is a must read for all those interested in the sinking of the Titanic. It prompts one to consider how history may have been altered if the Californian had taken action. Doing the right thing and owning up to mistakes also play a prominent roles. Thought provoking and richly detailed, this is the sort of historical fiction I crave. It is clear that Dyer is passionate about his subject matter. (P.S. - I highly recommend checking out Dyer's website for more interesting tidbits.)
One Last Gripe: My one small complaint was mentioned in the text of the review.
Favorite Thing About The Book: Learning about the Titanic from a new angle
First Sentence: In the early years of the twentieth century my father heard that there was good money to be made in Venezuela.
Industrial Magic picks up a few months after Dime Store Magic ends. After suffering numerous frustrations and prejudice events, Paige Winterborne has packed up Savannah and moved to Portland, Oregon. The change of scenery has been good for both of the them and both seem content with their new existence, but not having a coven still nags at Paige. In the beginning of the novel, Paige is seeking to convince witches to join a new sort of coven with her at the helm, but this plan is quickly abandoned when Paige's sorcerer boyfriend, Lucas, requests her assistance tracking down a supernatural killer who is targeting young people associated with the Cabals.
As much as Paige would like to avoid anything to do with the Cabals - particularly the Cortez Cabal led by Lucas' father - she can't walk away when a teenage witch is attacked in Atlanta. This leads her and Lucas on a wild adventure through Miami, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and New Orleans. They must hurry before the killer adds more bodies to his count. The mystery in this one was action packed and compelling. It kept me guessing. I won't spoil the plot for you, but I do enjoy the way Kelley Armstrong's mind works. Her paranormal mysteries are some of the best out there.
In addition to Paige, Lucas, and Savannah, characters from previous novels like Adam and Cassandra make appearances. My heart did a little jig when Clay, Elena, and Jeremy also took part in the plot. I have missed the wolves something fierce. Clay and Elena will always be one of my favorite literary couples, but even on their own, they are characters I love dearly. It's always nice to spend time with them.
Industrial Magic also broadens the series by introducing a new character, Jaime Vegas, a necromancer who provides much needed assistance to Paige and Lucas. I wasn't sure I liked Jaime at first, but eventually she grew on me. I'm sure we'll see more of her in future books. Jaime fits right in with the other strong female characters in the series. I love the strength and courage of these women. They are smart, brave, and can totally kick some tail.
Furthermore, I understand the Cabal structure a lot more after reading this one. They seemed like such a sinister and nefarious organizations in the previous book, but there is so much more than that. In many ways, they are benevolent and provide protection. I didn't like their prejudices against witches and vampires, but I was shocked to find that I didn't loathe the Cabal characters like I thought I would.
My only complaint is the first half of this novel moved a little slow compared to the second half. Once I hit the 50% mark, I couldn't stop reading, but it took me a time to get immersed. As much as I enjoy Paige and Lucas, I just don't find myself as enthralled with them as I get with Clay and Elena. I did like Industrial Magic more than Dime Store Magic though.
Overall, I enjoyed this installment and appreciated the character growth and development of relationships. I'm excited to read the next installment. I am rationing myself in spite of the length of this series because I know this will one will sting when it's finally over. I want to draw it out as long as possible. I am happy that I don't have to wait for each book to be released. That would be more tortuous than the rationing. Seriously - if you're a fan of the Bitten tv show or just love paranormal stories - this is a must read series.
One Last Gripe: Paige and Lucas' stubbornness concerning accepting help and resources was irksome.
Favorite Thing About This Book: Clay's moments - it always go back to Clay - sigh
First Sentence: "Got another CSI question for you," Gloria said as Simon walked into the communication hub with an armload of papers.
This is the second holiday novel of the season for me. If Hallmark and the Disney channel collaborated on a holiday movie, Snow in Love, would be it. This is a cotton candy sweet read full of holiday spirit, friendship, and romance.
Jessie Whitman lives in a small town in Alaska. As the winter holidays descend, she finds herself with more free time than usual as she works at her family ice cream shop and enjoys the school free days. She can't wait for her long distance boyfriend, Jake, to arrive, but things go south pretty quickly when Jessie learns that Jake has already arrived in town, but didn't call or text her. She doesn't know what to think and things take a turn for the worst when she finds Jake kissing a beautiful blond girl at a winter festival. Jessie is heartbroken and confused. How can someone break up with you without uttering a word?
Jessie struggles with her heartache and launches a plan with a local boy, Will, to make Jake jealous and show him what he is missing. Jessie doesn't plan on developing feelings for Will during the process, but she soon finds herself stuck between the guys and not knowing which one truly has her heart. I found Jessie to be selfish and fickle throughout a large part of the novel, but I was happy to see her finally start to make decisions and redeem herself by the end.
I never understood what Jessie saw in Jake in the first place. I found her Dad's assertions about him to be spot on. I couldn't figure out what about him was worth fighting for as I watched him mistreat both Jessie and his new girlfriend, Evie. I also loved Will from the first moment I met him and kept rooting for him to get his happy ending. As far as love triangles go, this one was weak and fairly predictable. I'm not a fan of the love triangle, but if it's going to exist, it would be better if both options were strong candidates.
In addition to the wintery romance elements, I loved the friendship between Jessie, Abby, and Erin. These girls support one another even when they don't see eye to eye. It's always nice to see positive female friendships.
Snow in Love also made me want to visit Alaska again. It's been years since I have been and I have never been in the winter, but this novel makes it seem like a magical winter wonderland full of possibilities.
If you're looking for a quick, sweet, cute holiday read, I'd recommend picking this one up.
One Last Gripe: The town queen bee irked me. She treated her boyfriend and friends like dirt.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The setting
First Sentence: "So, my goal with your dress is total annihilation," my best friend, Abby, said as she pushed a large spiral-bound sketch pad across the table.
I am always drawn into Pacific Northwest settings. There is something alluring about that region. Now that I no longer live there, I crave literary escapes whenever possible. Aside from the setting, I was also intrigued by the Chinese historical elements. I know little of the Chinese experience in Seattle in the late 1800's, but I knew that Chinese faced extreme persecution. I didn't realize how violent and tragic circumstances were until reading this and now I want to do more research.
Like with many of my historical fiction favorites, The Girl Who Wrote in Silk has a historical storyline and a contemporary one. I love when authors can blend together past and present. I found that both elements in this one kept me glued to my Kindle.
The contemporary story follows Inara Erickson, a young woman from Seattle who is fresh out of graduate school. Inara has recently inherited her family's estate on Orcas Island. Her decision to forgo a lucrative job opportunity with Starbucks to turn the estate into a boutique hotel is met with significant opposition by her family, but Inara perseveres in order to see her vision come to fruition. I admired Inara's grit and passion; she wasn't afraid to take big risks to preserve the land and home she loved. Things do take a turn when Inara discovers a hidden silk sleeve beneath a step. The sleeve has gorgeous embroidery that seems to be telling a tragic tale. As Inara begins to investigate the sleeve and its origins she turns up family secrets long since buried and is faced with a moral dilemma.
The sleeve connects to the historical story which follows Mei Lin, a young Chinese woman living in Seattle during the 1880's. Mei Lin was born in Seattle and has never known her family's native land, but that doesn't matter on the afternoon when the white men in the city round up every Chinese person they can find and force them on a ship bound for China. All along the Pacific Coast, those of Chinese descent are being forced to flee after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The act was intended to prohibit immigration of Chinese laborers, but it spawned a shameful period in American history that allowed racism, violence, and persecution to reign. Many white citizens in the Pacific Northwest feared the Chinese would take their jobs or ruin their culture. The treatment the Chinese received in this novel and in that time period were heartbreaking. Sadly, I feel that this is not an issue we have made great strides toward solving. Racism, prejudice, and ignorance still control a vast portion of the US today. We see it play out on the news on almost a daily basis. Have we learned nothing from the past?
I loved the way the contemporary story was connected to the historical one. I was drawn to both Inara and Mei Lin while reading and envisioned myself in their shoes. I highly recommend this to historical fiction readers, those who are craving a women fiction read, fans of Sarah Jio and Susanna Kearsley, and anyone interested in learning more about the treatment of the Chinese in the Seattle area. The Girl Who Wrote in Silk is informative, compelling, and thought provoking.
One Last Gripe: I didn't like Inara's father's attitude about the family history or his lack of support for his daughter. He was far too controlling for my tastes.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved the strength and tenacity of both Inara and Mei Lin.
First Sentence: Liu Mei Lin felt the steamship shudder beneath her feet and wondered if the quaking of her own body had caused it.
This novel is one of those that beautifully weaves a contemporary story line with a historical fiction one. I love when authors are able to execute this sort of tale; it blends together past and present in a way that makes for an addicting sort of read for a history nut like me. The historical components of this novel also focus on a time period beyond my expertise. I know little about the Jacobites and their impact on European history beyond a cursory knowledge of their political struggles. I love reading about people and events in history that are unfamiliar.
The contemporary component of this novel follows a young woman named Sara who has Asperger's and struggles to blend in, but prefers solitude. She finds herself being lured from her home in London to accept a job in France working on decoding an old diary written completely in cipher. To make matters more difficult, the source of the cypher is unknown. Sara is leery of the job at first, but soon launches herself into the challenge. To her surprise, she figures out the structure of the cypher and begins to unravel the private thoughts of Mary Dundas, a young woman who lived in the mid 1700's. As Sara discovers the diary's secrets, the historical storyline revolving around Mary comes to light.
Mary is being used to help hide a man who is wanted by the British crown. He is being hidden by Jacobites in France and Mary is forced into the charade to keep him safe. She will find herself thrust into the greatest adventure of her life full of intrigue, adventure, and secrets. I loved the segments of the novel that took place in Mary's time.
While I loved the historical bits, I enjoyed the contemporary pieces, but not as much. I found Sara hard to relate to as a main character. This was largely because she was shut off socially and emotionally for a majority of the novel. She begins to open up and find comfort in others as the novels progresses, but as someone who does not operate in the same manner as Sara, I found her cold and indifferent at times. I also found myself more drawn to Mary's situation.
Overall, I loved this novel and highly recommend it to historical fiction fans. I also feel like those who enjoy Sarah Jio's work will also like this one. Both Jio and Kearsley combine the past and present in a compelling way.
One Last Gripe: Some of the contemporary scenes moved slowly.
Favorite Thing About This Book: Learning more about the Jacobites
First Sentence: My cousin didn't try to catch the bride's bouquet.
Favorite Character: Mary
Least Favorite Character: the Bounty Hunters...more
The Kane brothers are back! This time we get to meet the elusive oldest brother, Wilder Kane. Wilder has been harboring a deadly secret since he was six. He hates himself for what happened that fateful night that changed his life and the lives of his brothers forever. To cope, Wilder has always lashed out at those around him and kept his emotions buried so deep he has forgotten the feel of everything except self loathing. He has thrown himself into being a fire jumper in Montana, but everything changes when he has an accident trying to help squelch a raging wildfire and his parachute malfunctions. After the incident, Wilder is forced to move back home to Brightwater, California. He buys a small house near the falls and isolates himself from his family.
In another part of town, Quinn Higsby is dealing with her own problems. She's trying to take care of her father who suffers from early onset Alzheimer's while stressing that she may be a carrier of the disease. Quinn lives each day on the precipice of good health and worries that at any moment she could fall into the same issues as her father. To quell her fears, she undergoes testing to determine her risk. On top of her health concerns, Quinn is trying to dodge the unwelcome advances of local firefighter, Garret, who can't seem to take the hint that she isn't interested.
One fateful evening, Quinn's father slips away from his care facility and is wandering the countryside as a snowstorm bears down on the small town. Quinn is beside herself with worry, but learns that her father has been found by a certain gentleman who has been ordering books from the bookstore where Quinn works. She rushes to the home of Wilder Kane to pick up her father, but when she arrives the storm begins to rage, making it impossible for her to leave. She realizes that she and her dad will just have to hunker down and wait things out - with Wilder, who is less than enthused by his sudden houseguests.
Quinn and Wilder soon realize that the other offers a balm to their wounded soul and romance blossoms. Yes, I admit that instal-love makes my stomach churn, but for some reason I didn't mind it as much with these two. I instantly related to Quinn because of her love of reading and tea. Wilder took a little more time to warm up to due to his grumpiness, but I soon found myself with a new book crush. By the end of this one, he had solidified his spot as my favorite Kane brother. That's saying a lot because I also adored Sawyer and Archer.
The emphasis on reading and books in this one was one of my favorite aspects. I might have even swooned a bit when Wilder read from Jane Austen. What woman wouldn't love that?
In addition, this novel has a holiday air to it as Thanksgiving and Christmas make appearances. I love indulging in stories in the same time frame as the current season. I just wish Edie was around to bring dessert to my Thanksgiving!
Lastly, I love the town of Brightwater. Lia Riley has done a fabulous job of painting such a vivid portrait of this town that I can see Main Street and the inhabitants as they go about their day. It's a place that I will be sure to revisit from time to time.
I've enjoyed my time in Brightwater with the Kane brothers, the women who own their hearts, and their cantankerous grandmother. I'd highly recommend a book vacation to fans of contemporary romance or those looking for some new book boyfriends. Each of the novels got better and better. This one is my favorite of the three.
P.S. - I am really hoping that Kit, the Kane cousin, gets his own book. I'm not quite ready to let this series go.
One Last Gripe: As with the other novels, there were some scenes that were a bit too detailed for me, but typical romance readers will not be bothered.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved watching the evolution of Quinn and Wilder.
First Sentence: During the dawn of the twentieth century, an alleged phantom haunted Castle Falls Gulch just beyond the Brightwater city limits.
Favorite Character: It's a tie between Quinn and Wilder.
Verity is a region in a futuristic United States that vaguely resembles the county we know. The region and territories have different names as states no longer exist. Many of these areas have suffered terribly, but Verity is perhaps the most feared locale due to its rising number of monsters. Victoria Schwab has borrowed from past monsters and myths to create her own monster breed that are both terrifying and haunting. I shuddered thinking of how life would be if such beings existed. Monsters in Schwab's world are created after acts of violence. The Corsai are beings made of shadow that feed on human flesh. The Malchai are vampiric sorts that drink blood to survive. Lastly, the most rare form is the Sunai who feed on the souls of those who have committed murder and heinous violent acts. The Sunai are by far the most feared and powerful beings as their existence stems from large scale tragedies such as bombings and mass shootings.
The story opens with August Flynn, a young Sunai who lives in the compound belonging to his adopted father. August longs to leave the safety and security of the compound, but Verity is on the brink of civil war. The opposition led by Harker would do anything to get their hands on a Sunai as they all belong to the Flynn camp. August's identity has remained a secret, but things change when his older brother, Leo, another Sunai and military leader, gives him a mission. August is to attend a prestigious local school and observe Kate Harker, the daughter of the infamous leader of the opposing force in Verity. I was drawn to August from his first appearance and remained firmly on his side throughout the novel. There is something compelling about a monster who only wants to be human. August does not want to give into the violent side of himself and hates feeding on souls - even though he only takes from those who have harmed others. While August is nothing like Edward Cullen, I did find myself reminiscing slightly as Edward also strives to be as human as possible.
Kate's story is also told through the dual narration style. Kate is returning to Verity as the novel begins after several stints at various boarding schools. Her father has kept her at arms length since she was a child, but Kate is unsure of whether this is because he is trying to protect her or avoid her. After she burns down a chapel at school, she is shipped back to Verity. Kate longs to prove to her father that she can be just as ruthless as him. Her goal is to find the Sunai and deliver them at her father's feet. Kate was much harder for me to like than August. I did eventually warm up to her, but I found her to be a less sympathetic character.
Kate and August find themselves running into one another at school more often than not. This connection will lead them into some dangerous adventures as they seek to unravel a sinister plot that is intent on pushing the two sides of Verity into all at war and unleashing the monsters on the human population.
One Last Gripe: I had some trouble settling into this world and keeping all the monsters straight in the beginning.
Favorite Thing About This Book: Creative setting and supernatural elements
First Sentence: The night Kate Harker decided to burn down the school chapel, she wasn't angry or drunk.
Sarah Merson hasn't had the easiest life. She's been bouncing from foster home from foster home since she was three. Sarah's life has been full of poverty and difficult circumstances. To make matters worse, Sarah has a memory that works more efficiently than most. In some ways she has a photographic memory, but she also remembers her experiences in vivid detail. She cannot forget the murder of her parents and she often finds herself drawn back into that moment. Her mind forces her to relieve experiences - both positive and negative.
Sarah cannot believe her luck when she receives a coveted scholarship to an exclusive boarding school in Maine, Sanctuary Bay. She feels that her life might be changing for the better. She tries to put aside her mistrust and focus on making friends. Sarah knows that fitting in and doing well at Sanctuary Bay can open doors for her in the future that will allow her to get into the best colleges and have the most lucrative career. The connections at Sanctuary Bay will open doors for Sarah she never imagined as possibilities, but she soon learns that something sinister is at foot at the picturesque school. Sarah will have to decide what's more important - her integrity or her ambition. She must find the courage to do the right thing and get to the bottom of the mystery of Sanctuary Bay.
I've always been attracted to boarding school settings. As a teen part of me always wanted to experience life in a boarding school. There is something glamorous and intriguing about it. I can say without a doubt though, Sanctuary Bay is not the boarding school experience I wanted. This school is full of some messed up situations and characters that can be unlikable. By the end, I ended up liking Sarah and Ethan, but they didn't always make it easy for me. I can't go into details about the messed up situations because it would ruin the story, but just be prepared. I didn't expect this one to be so dark. I also can't recommend it to younger teens due to some situations that occur; there were moments when this felt more New Adult than Young Adult.
All in all, I found this to be a creepy and dark mystery with elements of a thriller and a smattering of science fiction elements. It was a creative spin that worked well with the boarding school setting. I was compelled to find out what was going on at Sanctuary Bay.
One Last Gripe: I found the ending unsatisfying and I still have some unresolved questions.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The twist was unexpected. I had no idea it was coming.
First Sentence: Daddy pressed his finger to her lips, shushing Sarah quiet as he slid the door to the tunnel back on.
I love Robin Constantine's work, but I was slightly hesitant about this one due to the male main character. Bryan is in a wheelchair after an accident that left him paralyzed. As someone who is married to a man in a wheelchair, I have high standards for how paralyzed characters should be written. I wanted Bryan's experiences and behaviors to be realistic and not used as ploy to make this book stand out among other YA romances. I haven't read a ton of YA novels where one of the main characters has a physical disability so I was nervous, but Constantine has done Bryan justice and presented him a realistic way that brings him to life and doesn't tie him to his disability. Bryan is not a cause or someone to feel sorry for, but rather, he is someone who is learning to live differently and is seeking people who can support him in that endeavor.
The main female character, Cass, is spending the summer learning how to live differently as well, but her issue lies with her heart and mind. Her boyfriend cheated on her and left her broken. She decides she can't spend the summer at home with her mom and grandmother for fear she will run into the dreaded ex. Instead, she packs her bags for the beach to stay with her father, stepmother, and half brother at their bed and breakfast. To keep herself occupied, she will be working at a day camp which is where her path crosses with Bryan's. The pair form an instant friendship and begin to spend a lot of time together. I liked that Cass didn't view Bryan's disability as something she should pity.
As one can predict, the summer friendship blossoms into something more. The relationship is not without problems, but I felt like it was realistic. I enjoyed watching Bryan and Cass navigate the waters of their relationship. I was rooting for them the entire time. In the end, I liked this one because it wasn't a traditional pairing.
Romance aside, I also liked that this novel focuses heavily on friendship and family. Cass meets lots of new people at her job and forms bonds with them. She compares these new bonds to those of her friends back home. In addition, I loved the relationship between Cass and her little brother, Hunter. The scenes when Hunter was present always made me smile or get the warm fuzzies. I also loved Bryan's interactions with Hunter.
All in all, this is a perfect summer read. I can just imagine sinking my toes into the sand, feeling the ocean breeze, and losing myself all over again in Cass and Bryan's story. The Season of You & Me is my favorite Constantine novel to date.
I would caution that this novel may not be appropriate for younger teens as it contains profanity, teen drinking and drug use, and innuendo.
One Last Gripe: I wanted to see more interaction between Bryan and his brother.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The emphasis on friendship
First Sentence: My Nana had a saying - "Wish in one hand, shit in the other, and see which one gets filled faster."