Falling for Christmas was a cute, lighthearted read, perfect for this time of year. Hannah and Sam are two likable characters whom I wanted to see endFalling for Christmas was a cute, lighthearted read, perfect for this time of year. Hannah and Sam are two likable characters whom I wanted to see end up falling in love.
While Hannah and Sam are total opposites on the outside - Hannah's a sophisticated city girl and Sam is a country boy - they actually share a lot in common. Both have had their hearts broken by relationships that didn't work out, both have moms who weren't there when they needed them, and both are lonely. Overwhelmingly lonely.
When Hannah feels cautious about accepting Sam's offer to stay with him, her feelings made the story so believable because I'd feel the same way. But she realizes she doesn't have another choice - her car is stuck with no hope of getting it out of the snow that night, there are no hotels, and the snow isn't stopping anytime soon. She even has second thoughts when they pull up to his house, and I felt that moment of panic along with her.
Sam is sort of gruff at times, and you can understand why when you learn about what happened during his childhood. I could see Hannah's liveliness slowly melt away Sam's tough exterior. It was a joy to watch them grow fond of one another, and I was pulling for them to find a way to make a relationship work!
I flew through Falling for Christmas and didn't want it to be over. I love stories where a couple ends up snowed in together over Christmas. Love it! I'm not sure what the next book in the series will entail, but I'm definitely going to read it when it comes out!
I received a copy of this book for an honest review from the publisher via Netgalley.
After reading the first sentence of Eleanor's Gift, I thought, my God, Sousa's writing is beautiful! And it's not the kind of writing that's just beauAfter reading the first sentence of Eleanor's Gift, I thought, my God, Sousa's writing is beautiful! And it's not the kind of writing that's just beautiful for the sake of beauty without going anywhere - no, the story is enriched and propelled forward by it. The characters are richly drawn and come to life on the pages, and you can imagine what they would be like in real life.
There is a subtle sense of horror underlying the events that happen in Eleanor's Gift, a creepiness that you can't outright define, an insidious danger lying in wait. At first, I thought the mysterious stranger was walking into danger at the hands of her rescuers, but then I began to sense that there was something mysterious and indefinable about her. She's found with strange marks on her neck, and I couldn't wait to find out how she was the only survivor and where those marks came from.
Sousa is a master at weaving a Gothic tale and leaving you satisfied though Eleanor's Gift is a short story. If you tend to shy away from short stories, I really think you should pick this one up because it's exactly the way a story should be set up and told.
I received a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.
Good thing I ignored the cover for A Very Country Christmas because the writing was fab. For me, this cover doesn't exactly scream, "Read me!" I mean,Good thing I ignored the cover for A Very Country Christmas because the writing was fab. For me, this cover doesn't exactly scream, "Read me!" I mean, the dog is cute and looks exactly like mine, but what's up with the underwear on a hanger??
The title didn't sound like something I'd want to read, but I chose to ignore that, too. I'm so glad I read it! This novella is like a hidden gem, and even though this is the first book in the series that I've read, I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything I needed to know. I will, however, be reading the other books because I love these characters and can't get enough of them!
Lottie's Christmas gets crazy when her dinner for two plans turn into a party for ten! She's sweet and lovable, plus she's kind of klutzy just like me. She hasn't cooked much, and I was so nervous for her to cook for this many people on such a big holiday.
Lottie's boyfriend, Rory, proposed to her a while ago but has yet to give her a proper engagement ring, mostly because of money. She dreams of spending time with him for Christmas, just the two of them, but she ends up inviting more and more people. It was so cute and funny. She's a very giving person. Lottie won't admit it to herself, but she really does want that engagement ring.
Rory, how I love thy name! (If you're a Doctor Who fan, you'll understand why I love that name so much!) He's so sweet and funny. This was just a really funny story that had me laughing out loud many times with Lottie and Rory's hi-jinks.
I have to admit I'm jealous of Lottie's family and how much fun they had drinking together and having fun. Even when things go awry as they were inevitably heading that way, they still have a great time.
I'm hooked on Lottie and Rory - love them together and want to read more of their story! I highly recommend you check this story out. It's FREE as of this posting!
It's taken me way too long to read a novel by Mia Hoddell! Her books have been on my TBR for a long time, and now that I've read Not Enough, I'm doublIt's taken me way too long to read a novel by Mia Hoddell! Her books have been on my TBR for a long time, and now that I've read Not Enough, I'm doubly excited to get started reading more of her work.
Not Enough's synopsis called out to me - I'm an introvert and have felt the effects of others not understanding what that truly means, although not to the extent the main character, Neve, feels. I believe there's a spectrum when it comes to determining whether you're an introvert or an extrovert. Rather than someone being 100% introverted or 100% extroverted, we fall somewhere on the spectrum, with some of us closer to one end or the other while still others fall somewhere in the middle.
I fall closer to the introvert end of the spectrum, but there are situations where I can identify with being an extrovert. If you want to get down to the nitty gritty in the case of Neve, her character is probably an extreme case of introversion. The way people in her life treated her was abysmal, especially her own mother. Thank God she had Blake, whom I'll get to in a moment.
Cece is briefly introduced in the beginning, and wow, what a piece of work she is! Cece says things I would never say to someone who's supposedly my friend, and I couldn't understand why Neve bothered with her. Possibly low self esteem, which Neve definitely struggled with. Let me list the ways in which Cece is a TERRIBLE person!
1. Encourages Neve to drink alcohol until she's trashed 2. Encourages Neve to pick a random guy for sex 3. Berates Neve when Neve doesn't do exactly what she wants her to do 4. Doesn't care about Neve's safety or well being AT ALL
I could go on.
Cece does the opposite of slut shaming to Neve. I didn't know there was such a thing. And I couldn't believe when the words, "You should have wanted it. Everyone else would have," fell from Cece's lips. REALLY??? Wow...just wow... I probably would've decked her.
Even sadder? Neve's mom basically encourages those same things.
The thing is, Neve envies people who can let loose and have fun, in a safe way of course. I envy those people, too. I'd love to go to a club and dance like no one's watching. That sounds like a lot of fun to me. Like Neve, I worry about being laughed at, which doesn't sound like a big deal even if it happened, but for people like me and Neve, it would crush us. It's a legitimate fear that causes her to freeze up.
Blake is the bright spot in Neve's life. Man, when I say he's there for her, he's REALLY there for her! We all need a little more Blake in our lives. The chapters alternate between Neve's POV and Blake's POV, and I really liked knowing what he was thinking. It helped flesh out his character and made him more realistic, plus I fell just a bit more in love with him hearing his thoughts and feelings.
As for the huge secret Neve's been shouldering, I can understand why she wouldn't want to share that. People don't react well to something like that, especially if they've never been through it. There's a huge stigma, which is sad because then the people who need help don't always get it because their fears outweigh their hope.
Not Enough is a well-told, heartbreaking story that delivers a punch to the gut and makes you fervently wish for Neve's hope to outweigh her. You'll root for Blake and Neve to see what they have in each other and that the beauty of their friendship could bloom into so much more.
I received a free copy of this book for an honest review. You can find more of my reviews at my blog, Donnie Darko Girl. ...more
I've been fascinated by Buddhism as soon as we learned about the religion in high school. I took a few classes on it in college, and I don't think I'vI've been fascinated by Buddhism as soon as we learned about the religion in high school. I took a few classes on it in college, and I don't think I've come across a book where the main character is Buddhist, so I jumped at the chance to read MY BUDDHIST CHRISTMAS. I really wanted to see what it would be like around Christmastime for someone who isn't Christian.
Most of my family are Christian. We celebrate Christmas with all of the traditions that go along with it. While I've tried to imagine how people of the Jewish or Islamic faiths must feel living in the U.S. around Christmastime, I've never thought about Buddhists, so this book called to me, begging to be read!
There aren't too many young adult novels with a male lead character, especially one with a good head on his shoulders like Chris. He's so likable, and I could relate with him in some ways - feeling like you're too uptight and missing out on fun when what your friends are doing doesn't feel quite right to you, wanting to do something you love to do, and just navigating through the pressures of being a teenager and a high school student. And his loss...I could identify with his grief.
I felt protective of him, especially when the parents of the girl he likes didn't think he was good enough for her. I did think Mary invited him a bit soon to meet her parents, though. I mean, they hang out one time after school, and then she invites him to a pre-Christmas dinner the next week to meet them! I don't think I would have said no either if it was someone I had a crush on...I'm pretty bad at saying no...but with Christmas coming up, I thought it was pretty brave of Chris to take that challenge on. That's another reason I felt so protective of him.
And wow, Chris's band mates annoyed me. I couldn't believe how they kept putting off practicing their music. Surely there had to be some better girls or guys to be in the talent show with?? They seemed to know nothing about Chris, nor did they try to know anything him. Yep, I was definitely feeling protective of Chris.
MY BUDDHIST CHRISTMAS does an excellent job of showing what it's like to be Buddhist, better than any textbook I've ever read or could ever hope to read. That's exactly what I was looking for when I dove into Chris's story. Though it isn't quite Halloween yet, it was a perfect book to get a head start on some holiday reading. I love reading books that take place around Christmas, and I love learning about Buddhism, so it was a win-win for me. You won't learn the entire religion in one book, but you'll be able to understand it in a practical way of what it might be like to live day to day as a Buddhist. Five stars for MY BUDDHIST CHRISTMAS all the way! :D
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can find more of my reviews at my blog, Donnie Darko Girl. ...more
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.
You know how there are boI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.
You know how there are books with gorgeous covers that immediately attract your attention, so you check out the synopsis, and you're like, I've gotta read this book! It sounds too awesome to miss! And you're so excited, you even forget how beautiful the cover is because you're looking forward to diving inside to the story?
That's how IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH was for me. I couldn't wait to dive into the meat of this story. Could. Not. Wait. I had all kinds of scenarios I was imagining, and it was exciting. Really and truly exciting. Plus, I love to see how authors imagine the afterlife to be. It's always interesting and never disappointing.
So in IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, popular girl RJ dies before her time because she's accidentally touched by a Grim Reaper, and as you can imagine, she's super pissed. Though she's a brat, I actually liked her snark and couldn't help but laugh at her attitude. Sure, she's self-entitled and stuck up and desperate to retain her popularity, but she's also very real. There are people like her out there (I know, right?!), and I actually found myself rooting for her.
I wrote this status update when I began reading the book: I'm only 14% in so far, & I love it so much! It's so funny and snarky and adorable!
There were things I liked about IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, and things I didn't like. As I mentioned, I liked RJ quite a bit. One thing that bothered me was how Death was called "Death Himself" every time he was mentioned, although I ended up getting used to it. I understood why he was referred to that way the first time, but after that I thought it was unnecessary.
I wanted more from the moments where RJ was to go back in for a do-over. Those moments didn't last long enough for me, and it seemed almost too easy for RJ to change her thinking and thus change her future. People don't change overnight, so I wish more time had been spent on RJ's transformation because I loved seeing her change. I think time spent on the trial could have been better spent on RJ's moments back in time fixing what she didn't get right the first time around.
It was refreshing to have a story that didn't revolve around a romance. There are touches of romance in IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH, but it isn't the crux of the story. I really appreciated that.
The ending was really surprising! I wasn't expecting it to end the way it did. This isn't to say I didn't like it. I'm not disappointed at all - I think it was a fitting end, I just didn't see it coming. It caught me off guard, which is a good thing. I like not being able to predict things in books.
Overall, I recommend IT'S A WONDERFUL DEATH for anyone who loves a good story with redemption and exploration of life, death, and what it all means....more
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.
I know I'm going to soundI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.
I know I'm going to sound like a broken record, but characters who deal with crippling grief draw me in like a moth to a flame. And good lord, that synopsis! What fate could be worse than death?? What's the plan? STEPPING STONES sounds like a contemporary with possibly a supernatural element in there somewhere. I knew I NEEDED to read this book!
I like that Onna was weirded out by Everett knowing her name before they officially met. That was so realistic to me, and I'd wonder how some guy knew my name, too. Sure, I'd think he was cute, but I'd still think, okay, that's weird. So there's no instalove, but there's an attraction that Onna denies and kind of fights because so many other things are going on in her life right now.
Onna just doesn't have time for it. Her parents are divorcing and her brother just died, so these two major life changes are what she has to focus on working through. I loved it when Onna brought her friend Hunter back to the topic of her parents divorcing when Hunter veered off course to discussing Everett. Hunter is a great friend, though. She's a lot of fun and there for Onna through thick and thin. You need a friend who's fun to be around whether you're going through a lot of crap or not.
I liked Everett quite a bit, too. He honestly didn't strike me as creepy as you might think since he somehow knew Onna's name before they met. It's almost like he can read her mind and knew what she needed when she needed it. Wouldn't that be a great to have someone like him around? Not a mind reader, but someone who senses what you need the most, especially your emotional needs, I mean, wow.
The car accident that took the life of Onna's brother about killed me. So. Many. Feels. I couldn't believe the way it happened, and wait until you read that scene! It was even sadder than I thought it could possibly be. As a mother of two young children, I already think about how fragile life is, and you never know when it's your time to go. STEPPING STONES explores this truth in depth, and you'll want to hug your friends and family and tell them how much you love them after reading this. Five stars all the way! ...more
The Trouble with Playing Cupid is a cute and sweet story that you can read in one sitting. December is a successful singer with a heart of gold. I LOVThe Trouble with Playing Cupid is a cute and sweet story that you can read in one sitting. December is a successful singer with a heart of gold. I LOVE December! I found her non-divaness refreshing, and she donates a lot of money to charities. She uses her fame and money to help others, and that endeared her to me for life.
Tom is a British actor and a total heartthrob. I wasn't quite rooting for a romance between the two at first because during the appearance on Trace Randall's show, Tom seemed a little bit like a jerk and too aloof for my liking. Does he not pay attention to who other people are? He didn't even know who December is! I'm pretty sure IRL British actors know American celebrities. They mix. They mingle. I was kind of like, "How dare you, Tom!" See how much I love December??
"When he played the role of a self-indulgent vampire..." = best line ever! I laughed so hard when I read that about Tom! Kind of sounds like a Lestat-type character.
When I realized there's more to Tom than what he shows on camera, I was on board for him to get together with December. I liked the buildup to their romance, and it was very sweet.
The Trouble with Playing Cupid had me laughing, swooning, and cringing - sometimes all three at the same time. I ended up loving the characters, especially December's bodyguard and stylist. There was more telling than showing sometimes, but it's a short read, so I think it was in order to give background on the characters. I thought The Trouble with Playing Cupid was a standalone going in, but once I found out there's a sequel, I'm looking forward to finding out more about December's best friend and agent, Clarissa.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.
I think THE BODY INSTITUTI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My stop on the blog tour can be found at Donnie Darko Girl.
I think THE BODY INSTITUTE is a brilliant idea for a story. Doesn't it sound like a magical cure for all those extra pounds a person would want to shed? But this being a sci-fi story, you just know there's something insidious about this "fix" for obesity, especially thinking about transplanting someone into another body in order to achieve the desired results. *shudders*
I can't lie - I'd love for someone to temporarily take over my body and whip it into shape for me. But what about the girl who does it? Would my feelings about her well-being cause me to change my mind? It's not an easy answer because the solution is so tempting.
THE BODY INSTITUTE takes place in the future, and in this future, junk food is heavily taxed. If you're overweight, you pay more taxes, too. The more weight you keep on and the longer you keep it on, the more money you have to pay. Everyone has to be weighed in every so often, which is how the government tracks who's taking care of their bodies and who is not.
Morgan is a Reducer - she's one of the teens who take over the body of an overweight teen and works out until the desired number of pounds is lost. She has to eat healthy and exercise A LOT. Not only is this interesting in itself - it would have been plenty to read about - but there's even more to the plot when Morgan can't remember what she did or said during the time she's in the Loaner body.
Plus there's the parents of the girl whose body Morgan is responsible for getting in shape - they're rich, and the mother looks at Morgan with disgust. I thought it could have been how she looked at her overweight daughter AND looking at her daughter's body, knowing there's someone else in there. I had a feeling they weren't going to be getting along and looked forward to the conflict that was sure to come.
There's so many ethical issues to take into consideration when thinking about this story, and I can see junk food being taxed one day. I can see people who are overweight paying more taxes. That's what made THE BODY INSTITUTE so eerie - I could see it all happening. What if we could transplant someone's mind into someone else's body for a while? Who are we as the human race? Are we just a collection of processes taking place in the brain, or are we more than that?
Morgan's grandfather raised a great point about being human - he tells Morgan she'd be a different person if she had been born in a different body. She'd have a different personality and wouldn't be the same person as who she is today. I think that's absolutely true. A lot of who we are is influenced by things like our body shape, hair color, eye color, skin color. Look at how human beings treat each other differently on outward appearances - especially skin color. People are discriminated against everyday based on their gender or race or age.
THE BODY INSTITUTE explores so many themes - society, body image, body shaming, and even the question of how involved the government should be in the health of its citizens. You can't miss THE BODY INSTITUTE. It's an absolutely brilliant novel that will have you discussing these issues long after you're finished reading! ...more
I received a review copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.
Though I haven't read Eleanor and Park yet, I have read TwiliI received a review copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.
Though I haven't read Eleanor and Park yet, I have read Twilight, and the thought of those two books meeting together sounded irresistible. Though it says in the synopsis this book is a contemporary romance, I still thought there was going to be a paranormal element like vampires to the story, but there isn't one. I was actually relieved there weren't vampires to be honest.
The Beginning of Never is a novel that may look and sound like it's a typical teenage tale of angst and woe, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Rather, this novel is about working through pain, falling in love for the first time, dreaming of something better, and becoming who you want to be. The characters are realistic and have unique, individual voices, and I loved getting to know them.
I'm drawn to characters who have lost a parent. It's something I have in common with them and am interested in reading how they deal with the loss. At the age of 14, I lost my mom to cancer, and it may seem strange, but I really like reading about characters who have that similar kind of pain to work through. I feel like I'm working through my own right alongside them.
Lenora is angry. Very angry. I know what it's like to feel that way and not know what to do with any of it. Carrying all of that around is exhausting. She's been robbed of years with her mother, who died the day before Lenora's birthday three years ago. She doesn't handle her anger well, to say the least, and when her behavior becomes alarming, her dad sends her away to boarding school. There she meets Alex.
Alex's middle name is Nathan, and that's how Lenora refers to him throughout the book, so I will here, too. Nathan is hot and cold with Lenora, and while I may have rolled my eyes a time or two, I couldn't help thinking some teenage boys really are like that. Their romance develops naturally with some bumps along the way. There's bound to be misunderstandings between two people, even those who seem to be the most in sync, and with Nathan not terribly outspoken about his emotions, it makes it even more likely Lenora would find his behavior difficult to decipher. At times I found his behavior difficult to decipher, too.
I wanted The Beginning of Never to keep on going and never stop. The writing is superb, and the characters were so vividly brought to life, I felt like I really did know them. I love this book like I do a dear friend. This book does end on a cliffhanger, but not to fear - the next installment will be out really soon. And I can't WAIT to get my hands on a copy!! ...more