Find out more information about this feature and my ratings here.
Heart Like Mine
Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be? At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been the one taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again. But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew. – Goodreads
Told from three different perspectives, Heart Like Mine tells the story of two women and one tween whose lives are connected by one husband and father. As you can read in the synopsis, Kelli dies in the very beginning of the book, but you will hear her story from her perspective through flashbacks. These three women are very different; Grace is confident and accomplished, Kelli is beautiful and damaged, and Ava is trying to figure out how to be an almost-teen while still feeling so responsible for her mother. There are things in this book that will break your heart into a million pieces with an honesty that really brought the book to life.. Through the storytelling in Heart Like Mine, I think you will find that your opinion of both Grace and Kelli will change. While both of these women have their unpleasant characteristics, I felt deep sympathy for them. Of the two, I think that Kelli’s story got to me the most. She has hidden so many of her secrets from those she loves and in the end, it kept her friends and family from really understanding her, in many ways. I was drawn into Heart Like Mine almost immediately and stayed in the story until the last word was spoken. I have never read any books by Amy Hatvany, but after Heart Like Mine, I will definitely be reading more.
The narration was very good. There was excellent voice distinction between the three women in this book, which is no easy feat, and the men’s voices were well done, also. I think my only reservation about it was the pace. The narration seemed very slow to me. You might want to utilize the speed-up feature on your audiobook interface when listening to it. It was still an excellent listen, though, and the emotion of the story was effectively conveyed through the performance of Cassandra Campbell.
I received this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is. An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults. After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily. Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl. – Goodreads
I initially decided to read Transparent because the idea of being invisible really intrigues me. There was a certain Curse Workers quality to this story, which I loved. This world of abilities exists within a world like the one we know right now. The best part was that the mutations were caused by something viewed as harmless, but ended up going through certain segments of the population and changing the social dynamic of society. People with abilities are viewed as freaks by some and valuable to others. Fiona’s invisibility has made her feel isolated and used by her sociopathic father, who was completely unsympathetic. In contrast, Fiona’s mother wanted to save her and protect her, but the abilities that Fiona’s father possesses has kept them helpless for many years. There was a big contrast between Fiona’s two brothers and her older brother proved to be a pretty complex character that I had mixed feelings about and never really trusted. As Fiona slowly starts to try to fit into a normal life and makes friends, I could feel the tension within the story really building. The suspense I felt as her father closed in on her location made for some rapid page turning in parts.
Although the idea of Transparent was very intriguing, I still wanted more in the way of character development, especially when it came to her friends. Obviously, all of these gifted kids live under pressure to join a syndicate and in the case of Seth and Brady, their home life has suffered, too. I felt like there were strong characters waiting to be discovered but were never quite fleshed out. Despite that, I did enjoy the book. It’s a unique twist on the super hero story. Even though these teens have what amounts to super powers, it does not necessarily make their lives better. In fact, it keeps them in harms way in many cases. That is always more interesting to me than just running out and saving the day and this story had that interesting angle down pat.
I received this galley in exchange for my honest review
Find Natalie Whipple online:
Welcome, romance readers! Today I’m sharing my reviews of three romances in the New Adult category. There’s a lot of NA romance out there right now, so here are three that I think you will enjoy.
Find out more about my romance ratings here.
: Jay Crownover
Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight–A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want–and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen. To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess-and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw-even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is. But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love . . . or each other. – Goodreads
If you don’t like the good girl + bad boy scenario, this won’t be for you. However, I will say that there are some side elements to this story that made is a little different that your run-of-the-mill bad boy tale. First of all, Rule has an identical twin that was killed tragically, so there is a lot of baggage that everyone is carrying around. The next angle of the story is that Shaw has spent so much time with Rule and his family because her own is such a mess. The story ended up being much more than I thought it would be, with all of the steaminess that you would expect with this genre.
I received this galley in exchange for my honest review
When Rory Macintosh’s roommates find out that their studious and shy friend has never been with a guy, they decide that, as an act of kindness they’ll help her lose her virginity by hiring confident, tattooed bad boy Tyler Mann to do the job…unbeknownst to Rory. Tyler knows he’s not good enough for Rory. She’s smart, doctor smart, while he’s barely scraping by at his EMT program, hoping to pull his younger brothers out of the hell their druggy mother has left them in. But he can’t resist taking up her roommates on an opportunity to get to know her better. There’s something about her honesty that keeps him coming back when he knows he shouldn’t… Torn between common sense and desire, the two find themselves caught up in a passionate relationship. But when Tyler’s broken family threatens to destroy his future, and hers, Rory will need to decide whether to cut her ties to his risky world or follow her heart, no matter what the cost… – Goodreads
I sort of had to get around the roommates trying to deflower Rory by “hiring” someone they know, but once you get past that, you will find a romance that juxtapises someone from a poor, working class background and a sheltered girl from the suburbs. There are some interesting familial interactions in this story, which was nice because it rounded it out. Tyler is not really a “bad boy” but rather someone who is struggling to provide for a very dysfunctional family. He’s not rebelling against the system, he’s trying desperately to avoid being a victim of it. I thought Rory and Tyler worked well as a couple and, as I said before, the family element kind of made the story for me.
I received this galley in exchange for my honest review
While most girls would be thrilled to meet the attractive young millionaire, Rachael would rather spend time with books than at sporting events, and she has more important things to worry about than romance. Like her parents pressuring her to leave her unpaid publishing internship for law school. Or her brother, who’s obliviously dating Rachael’s high school bully. Or that same high school’s upcoming reunion. Still, when Ryan’s rookie teammate attaches himself to Rachael, she ends up cohosting Friday night dinners for half a dozen football players.
Over pancake brunches, charity galas, and Alexander the Great Rachael realizes all the judgments she’d made about Ryan are wrong. But how can a Midwestern Irish-Catholic jock with commitment problems and an artsy, gun-shy Jewish New Englander ever forge a partnership? Rachael must let down her barriers if she wants real love–even if that opens her up to pain that could send her back into her emotional shell forever. – Goodreads
I loved this story’s pairing of a professional football player and a bookish recent college grad who knows nothing about football. Together, Rachael and Ryan are very different but their two worlds are interesting to read about. Rachael is struggling to find her place in publishing after a comfortably middle class upbringing while Ryan is living a very lavish lifestyle after a humble upbringing. The cast of supporting characters made this book very enjoyable with a lot of fun banter and sweet romance.
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Category: Young Adult
Release Date: 5-14-13
Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy’s mom decides they need to take a break. Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who’s always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush. Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt? – Goodreads
I was very happy when I found out that we would get to know more about the Brannicks via a new series and School Spirits was a fantastic beginning to a series that I know I will enjoy. Izzy has been raised to fight, but you see right away that the disappearance of her sister has created cracks in her armor. Her sadness over her sister and the somewhat stiff relationship she has with her mom, who has been more drill sergeant than nurturer, gives the reader an interesting glimpse into what it must have been like growing up in a famous supernatural hunting family. Torin, the warlock trapped in the mirror gets a much meatier role in this story and his scenes were some of my favorites. I am so glad that he’s going to be a bigger pat of the story!
Comparisons to the Hex Hall series will be unavoidable and because this is a spin-off, not entirely unfounded. I loved the Hex Hall series for its wit and string characters and School Spirits has the same elements, but in its own, unique way. Izzy is used to being under the radar. Her life has depended on it, so when she is thrown into a normal high school, it’s a completely new experience. I really liked her view of the social rituals that define high school and the way she seems simultaneously older and younger than the other students. One thing you will definitely notice is that Rachel Hawkins has written another funny, smart and spooky story. I like the structure that the series seems to be taking, not unlike Supernatural, with one large story arc and what appears to be smaller problems to solve along the way. Hey, that works for a reason and it certainly worked in School Spirits. You can go ahead and sign me up for the book two waiting list!
This book earned 4 birds:
I received this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Find Rachel Hawkins online:
The Symptoms Of My Insanity
When you’re a hypochondriac, there are a million different things that could be wrong with you, but for Izzy, focusing on what could
be wrong might be keeping her from dealing with what’s really
wrong. But Izzy’s sense of humor can only get her so far when suddenly her best friend appears to have undergone a personality transplant, her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, and her beautiful maybe-boyfriend is going all hot and cold. Izzy thinks she’s preparing for the worst-case scenario, but when the worst-case scenario actually hits, it’s a different story altogether—and there’s no tidy list of symptoms to help her through the insanity. - Goodreads
You get right away that Izzy is dealing with a lot in her life. Her hypochondria is clearly a coping mechanism for an absent father and a mom who shields her daughters from the severity of her illness. Pair that with a body that she clearly isn’t comfortable with and Izzy’s ability to keep everyone happy becomes more and more difficult. Something that really struck me about this book was how funny the writing was. Even though the subject matter was very serious, Izzy’s voice is laugh-out-loud funny. The smart and snarky dialogue was an excellent contrast to the heavy things that Izzy was dealing with. Her mom’s attempts to be involved in her life were sweet but also supplied a lot of the humor. Overall, I thought the supporting characters in this story were all interesting and fun to read.
Izzy’s hilarious inner voice almost made me forget how confused and in pain she was for a lot of this story, which is how the people around her were also distracted. As long as she could convince people that she was still amiable and funny, they wouldn’t look too closely. Her apparent need to please everyone and make things as smooth as possible for everyone else was at a great personal sacrifice for her. She was, for lack of a better word, a pushover for much of the book. I found that frustrating, but only because I really liked her and I wanted her to stand up and demand some things for herself, as well. It was through her friends that she finally found the courage to do that. When something totally humiliating happened, it made her realize that living in her own tightly controlled world didn’t work as well as reaching out and being present for herself and for her friends. The ending was just bittersweet enough to give me hope, but not so sugary sweet that is was unrealistic. The Symptoms Of My Insanity was not exactly what I expected, but it was definitely a book with a lot of wit, humor, and heart.
This book earned 3.5 birds rounded up to 4:
I received this galley in exchange for my honest review.
Find Mindy Raf online:
Welcome to my new home! You may have noticed that things are a bit different and I will talk about my WordPress conversion experience later in the post, but first!
From St. Martin/NetGalley
It seems really meta to fangirl over a book about a fangirl, but there you have it. Can’t wait to read this!
Macmillan has some fabulous books coming out this fall. I mean, they are really hitting it out of the park. If you haven’t checked out their Fall releases, you are missing out!
From Little, Brown:
Reviews this week:
Of Triton by Anna Banks
The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble
Of Triton Blog Tour + Giveaway
Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop (Int’l)
A Spear of Summer Grass Giveaway (US/CAN)
Now, for the WordPress Conversion. This is something that many people have been doing because Google seems to be slowly shutting down a lot of the features in blogger. GFC is no longer something you can add to your blog and Google reader is also gone the way of the Dodo. So, after biting my nails and thinking about it, I decided to take the plunge. Here are some FAQs based on what people have been asking me about the process.
Did you hire someone?
Yes, I hired Paper Wings Design Studio based on feedback from some of their other customers. They did both the conversion and the design. I was too afraid to attempt the conversion myself, but those of you that are more computer savvy might be able to do this part. If you do hire someone, I strongly suggest you get recs from other customers before you decide. My experience with Paper Wings has been good, so far. Things are slowly coming together with few issues here and there. (If you are looking for a fabulous design in blogger, I highly recommend Blog Sites by Suzy. She is awesome and wonderful to work with.)
What about your followers?
That is probably the scariest thing about converting. You don’t have that little GFC box, anymore. I was up to 1.342 followers, so leaving that behind was hard. However, the longer I blog, the more I realize that interaction matters more than the number of followers. I think that publishers like to see how many people are commenting and looking at your website more than the GFC follower count. This will become even more relevant as GFC goes away completely. Even if you do have to work to rebuild that following, which I expect to do, it’s good because it gives you that “new blog feeling”. I’ve found that a bit of the enthusiasm that I’ve lost over the past two years has returned with the prospect of reaching out to new people.
Is WordPress Complicated?
It is definitely more complicated than blogger, but it is not overwhelming by any means. Blogger was designed to be very, very simple. WordPress looks much different from an admin point of view, so that takes some getting used to, but I think that anyone who has been blogging will be fine.
What about SEO?
One of the main advantages of WordPress is your ability to use already packaged or plug-in apps for Search Engine Optimization. Some themes have it built in. Mine doesn’t, so I am using a free SEO Plug-In called yoast. I have already seen a significant increase in unique visitors and page views. If you’d like more info about SEO, April from Good Books and Good Wine has had some excellent posts about it. (Here and Here). I also found this article explaining more about yoast.
Whether or not you decide to switch depends on you, your blogging goals, and your comfort level. I get a little upset when I see bloggers telling people that they must switch and that being on blogger is stupid. (Yes, people have actually written that.) I guess my only advice would be to really think about it first and don’t let yourself get panicked because everyone else is doing it. Blogger might be the best fit for you. It took me a long time to make this decision and it felt like the right time to do it. It’s different and it will take some getting used to, but I feel like it was the best decision for me. I am always available to answer questions if you are still on the fence about it. You can email me or hit me up on Twitter.
All of that being said, if you were a GFC follower I would greatly appreciate it if you followed another way, like email, RSS, Networked Blogs or BlogLovin’. Let me know and I will make sure I am following you back!
Have a great week, everyone! Happy reading!
The Sweet Dead Life
Author: Joy Preble
Category: Young Adult
Publisher: SoHo Teen
Release Date: 5-14-13
Jenna Samuels is having a very bad eighth-grade year. Her single mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was eight. Her 16-year-old brother, Casey, tries to hold together what’s left of the family by working two after-school jobs— difficult, as he’s stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead. Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her. Beatified. Literally. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that Casey didn’t survive the accident at all. He’s an “A-word.” (She can’t bring herself to utter the truth.) Soon they discover that Jenna isn’t just dying: she’s being poisoned. And Casey has been sent back to help solve the mystery that not only holds the key to her survival, but also to their mother’s mysterious depression and father’s disappearance. – Goodreads
The first thing I noticed about this book was how smart and hilarious Jenna’s narrative voice is. Her observations about her stoner brother and life as an 8th grader made me laugh out loud more than once. Those funny moments were balanced very well with the more serious themes regarding Jenna’s mom and Jenna’s feelings of having to try to take care of the family since her dad disappeared. I loved Casey’s transformation from “loser” to “A-word”. Through Jenna’s somewhat cynical view, it was both touching and funny to read. I loved their sibling relationship because it seemed very real to me. There was a lot of love there as well as the normal frustrations that anyone with a brother will be able to relate to. It was nice to read a book where the sibling relationship was the main focus.
On top of the family drama, there was a good old fashioned mystery that needed to be solved. I thought this plot line was really fun and I had a good time trying to figure out what was going on. The pacing was great and the mystery elements were very well structured and seemed to flow seamlessly within all of the other elements in the story. Casey was meant to help solve this problem, of course, but he was still flawed and that brought out the realism in the mystery plot. I know that sounds a bit silly since this book does deal with people turning in to angels, but Casey’s struggle with his new status could be compared to any adolescent life change. It was still hard for him to deal with and I’m glad that it wasn’t all golden wings and harp music. Overall, this book was a smart and fun read with a main character that will appeal to both tweens, teens, and adults.
This book earned 4 birds:
I received this ARC in exchanged for my honest review.
Find Joy Preble online:
|A Spear Of Summer Grass
The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather’s savannah manor house until gossip subsides. Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society. Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming-yet fleeting and often cheap. Amidst the wonders-and dangers-of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for-and what she can no longer live without. – Goodreads
As a fan of historical romance, I was very excited about getting a chance to review this book. Set in the post-WWI, pre-depression era, A Summer Spear Of Grass follows the journey of Delilah who appears to be a frivolous, often married socialite. However, the story slowly reveals Delilah to much more than that. While she escapes to Africa to avoid a scandal, she becomes more and more involved in the wildness and fierce landscape around her. She notices the societal tensions that existed between the native population and the imperial British in power. She experiences the dangers that people face every day in a land that is largely untamed. As she grows and gets in touch with who she used to be, her relationship with Ryder completes her transformation from party girl to the person she truly is inside. I loved the rich descriptions of Africa, the stories of the people she encountered, and the complex and bittersweet romance. I think that anyone who loves historicals will enjoy this story.
I received this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Find Deanna Raybourn online:
A sixth-generation native Texan, Deanna Raybourn graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a double major in English and history and an emphasis on Shakespearean studies. She taught high school English for three years in San Antonio before leaving education to pursue a career as a novelist.
Harlequin has very generously offered up two copies of this book to give away! Two winners will receive a gorgeous finished copy of A Spear of Summer Grass. you must be 13+ to enter. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada.
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Welcome to my stop on the Love In Bloom Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer and Portrait of a Book. I’ve picked a list of giveaway books that have a great romantic element to them. Two winners will get to pick a book from the list
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howard
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
Forget You by Jennifer Echols
Going Vintage by Lindsay Leavitt
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
I have recently moved to WordPress, so if you were following via GFC, please consider following using another method, like email, RSS, Bloglovin’ or Networked Blogs. I would greatly appreciate it!
This giveaway is open internationally. You must be 13+ to enter.
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Welcome to the OF TRITON blog tour! Check out all of the other stops here!
I am very honored to have everyone’s favorite Syrena brother/sister duo, Galen and Rayna, on the blog today! I thought it would be interesting to get a little insight into their thoughts about relationships, humans, and living on land.
So, Rayna, what do you think about your brother dating a half-human girl?
I’m not surprised at all. He’s always been a weirdo. And that’s what he gets for making fun of how much I love collecting human stuff. At least I didn’t haul off and fall in love with one! Well, half of one, anyway. Actually to me, Emma is more human than Syrena. She’ll never fit in with us. Unless she does something with that creepy blonde hair, at least.
This one is for both of you – what is your general opinion about interacting with humans? Pro or con?
RAYNA: You have to admit, humans are kind of dumb. I mean, we can pop right out of the ocean and go walk among them and they have no idea. There are humans out there more clueless than any Syrena would be fresh out of the water. How did your species even survive this long?
GALEN: Some humans are dumb, but there are some very smart ones out there too. Those are the ones that scare me. We’ve had some good experiences with them so far, but we’ve also had some bad ones, too. And more and more of them are finding out about us. I’m not ready to trust them just yet.
Galen and Rayna, what is your favorite and least favorite thing about living on land?
RAYNA: I love staying in Galen’s land house. I have my own room and it’s full of human clothes and nail paint and there are cookies hidden all over the place like under my pillow and in the drawers. One thing I HATE is that you get so dirty on land. The air is full of dust and the flowers seem to vomit this yellow stuff that gets on everything. Why do you love flowers so much? They’re filthy.
GALEN: My favorite thing about land is Emma. My least favorite thing about land is Emma—when she’s mad at me.
Galen, when you were kids, did you ever play pranks on Rayna? What was the best one?
Toraf and I brought her one of her favorite fish to eat. We’d filled it with squid ink so when she bit down on it…Well, it stained her teeth of course, but there was so much ink that it got into her nose too, and turned the inside of it pure black. We called her Cave Nostrils for almost an entire season after that.
Thanks for doing this, you guys! Good luck with, um……..everything.
Find Anna online: Website Twitter
Find Anna on tour: Fierce Reads Events
Grew up in a town called Niceville. No, seriously. I graduated from Niceville High School. So did J Lo’s second husband. And the guy that plays Aqua Man on Smallville dated my best friend.
Now I indulge my tendency to lie by writing the lies down and selling them to publishers. Well actually my agent does that. One of my lies is called OF POSEIDON. The sequel is called OF TRITON.
Oh, and if you haven’t heard, if you pre-order a copy of OF TRITON, you will get access to exclusive bonus content that includes the first chapter of OF TRITON (you get a little sneak peek ahead of time) and a scene from OF POSEIDON told from Toraf’s POV. I’ve read this scene and you do not want to miss it. Find out more about it here!
The good people at Macmillan are letting me offer up a very generous giveaway! One lucky winner will get a paperback copy of OF POSEIDON and a finished hardcover of OF TRITON, as well as a book mark. Just fill out the rafflecopter below to enter. (You must be 13+. Open to residents of the US and Canada only)
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