Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review: One True Loves

One True Loves
By Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: June 7, 2016

From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

My review:

Emma Blair grew up feeling like she didn't quite fit in with her family of readers. Her parents owned a bookstore and their dream was for their daughters to one day take over the store but Emma longs to travel and see the world instead of reading about it in a book. Her boyfriend Jesse felt the same way so they moved to California for college and never looked back. Emma and Jesse built a happy and exciting life together but it came to a halt when Jesse's helicopter crashed in the ocean. Emma falls apart and can no longer bear the memories everywhere she looks so she moves back home with her parents. 

While at home, Emma begins to read more and more and take an interest in the store, eventually running it. She also reconnects with Sam who had worked for her parents and had a crush on Emma as a teen. As Emma heals, she and Sam fall in love and get engaged. Then she finds out Jesse is still alive and she is torn between not just two men she loves but two very different lives she lived with them. Can she go back to being the adventurous girl Jesse married or has she changed too much?. How can she walk away from what she has with Sam? What does she want to do with her life?

I thought One True Loves was well written and Emma's emotions and struggles felt authentic. Emma changes a lot over the course of the story, going from a young woman who can't wait to escape her family and small town life and hopping from place to place to becoming someone who settles down to run the family bookstore. Losing Jesse changed her fundamentally but she also matured through her life experiences, even developing a closer relationship with her older sister Marie. With a new fiance and a future planned out, things are thrown into turmoil when Jesse returns. 

Jesse has also been changed by what happened so the two have to decide if they can rebuild because while they loved each other before, they have changed so much and have to figure out if there is still something worth saving. Then there is Sam who is a wonderful and caring and patient guy with whom Emma has built a very different kind of life from what she had with Jesse. I really appreciated how Emma's decision was not just between two different men. It was more about what she wanted from her life and what made her happy. Her family is supportive but it isn't an easy decision to make and I thought the author handled it well. 

One True Loves is about falling in love, love that evolves and survives challenges and love for your family and yourself. There are no easy answers and that's what makes it feel so real and true to life. I would suggest this novel to fans of Jojo Moyes, Liane Moriarty and Cecelia Ahern. It is the first book by Taylor Jenkins Reid that I've read but I have a feeling it will make my list of top 2016 books and I definitely plan to pick up her other novels. If you are looking for a good contemporary summer read, consider giving One True Loves a try.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (188)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

This week, I'm waiting on:

United by Melissa Landers
Release date: August 2, 2016

After thwarting a deadly coup and saving the alliance between their worlds, Cara and Aelyx have finally earned a break. Their tiny island colony is everything they dreamed it would be―days spent gathering shells on the beach and nights in each other’s arms.
But the vacation is short-lived.

The treaty between Earth and L’eihr has awakened an ancient force that threatens to destroy them all. The Aribol, mysterious guardians charged with maintaining interstellar peace, deem the alliance a threat to the galaxy. They order a separation of the races, decreeing humans and L’eihrs must return to their own planets within the month or face extinction. In fact, they already have agents in place on Earth, ready to begin.

With the clock ticking, Aelyx and Cara assemble a team of colonists and race back to Earth, where they unite with old friends to solve the mystery of who the Aribol are, what they want, and the real reason the alliance has provoked them. As tensions build to a full-scale war, Aelyx and Cara must fight harder than ever―not just for their future, but for the survival of both their worlds.

I loved Alienated and Invaded and I can't wait to see what happens in book three! This series may be YA science fiction but it also has plenty of humor, romance and adventure for readers not as interested in sci-fi.

Margherita's Notebook by Elisabetta Flumeri & Gabriella Giacometti
Release date: July 26, 2016

Escape to the winding cobblestone streets and rolling hills of Tuscany in this delicious, romantic, and charming tale of irresistible attraction and dreams fulfilled, complete with mouthwatering authentic Italian recipes—perfect for fans of Chocolat and Under the Tuscan Sun.

Margherita is a spirited young woman with a passion for cooking. When her heart is broken in Rome, she returns to her hometown of Roccafitta, a small Tuscan village filled with lovable eccentrics and beautiful vineyards. She dreams of saving enough money to reopen her late mother’s restaurant and hopes she may find help from the handsome stranger in town, Nicola Ravelli.

An aloof and ambitious businessman, Nicola is buying up the village’s vineyards and is also on the lookout for a personal chef. Though the two dislike one another immediately, Nicola agrees to pay Margherita well for each delicious meal she prepares for his various business meetings. But with each new dish, Nicola discovers that he is the one being seduced and Margherita realizes that she is expressing much more through her cooking than she cares to admit.

Featuring the recipes for the seductive Italian dishes described in the story, including roast duck and the delectable pastry, baci di dama (a lady’s kiss), Margherita’s Notebook is an engaging and warm celebration of the power of food and its ability to nourish, stimulate, and express emotion—a satisfying read for every season.

I think this sounds like a romantic and fun novel and I love the setting. I bet there will be lots of great descriptions of food and Tuscany as well as the recipes. Count me in!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Post (55) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

I had a busy week because of my library program but now things are quiet and I will have a chance to get caught up on other stuff like grocery shopping, planning my vacation this fall and reading :) 

My murder mystery dinner was Thursday night and it went very well. I couldn't guess who the killer was and I was a little disappointed by how the mystery resolved but at least a handful of people did guess correctly. Everyone had a good time and I even received some donations toward more murder mystery dinners in the future. Good thing I plan to do one more this fall. My focus for the next few weeks will be on our mini Comic Con but I am not as involved in that as the youth services specialists. I did find a very talented manga artist who will be teaching the kids and teens (and any interested adults) how to draw manga characters as well as someone from an area university who will be bringing their 3-D printer in to demonstrate how it works by printing 3-D superheroes and villains. We are very excited about that! Now I just have to come up with a costume!

Last week on my blog:

738 Days by Stacey Kade (review)

Books read:

The Winemakers by Jan Moran

I liked this one quite a bit. It had a dual story line though it mostly took place in the 50s. I initially disliked the mother, Ava until I found out what she'd been through. I really enjoyed the descriptions and learning about wine and wine making. 

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Although I liked A Man Called Ove more than this one, I did laugh out loud sometimes while reading it and I loved the Harry Potter references among other things. It took awhile to get into the story because of the fairy tale stuff but the characters were fun, especially Elsa's crazy grandmother. My one major irritation was that they fed the dog chocolate. Maybe the author has never owned a dog but that is a huge no-no!

Currently reading:

Life Just Got Real by Sadie Robertson

I just started this and so far it's not bad. I have a feeling it will be popular at my library where so many people are fans of the Robertsons and Duck Dynasty. I'm not a fan of the show but I was impressed with Sadie's personality on Dancing with the Stars so I thought I'd give this a try.

Currently listening to:

Jim Dale's rendition of Weasley is Our King is stuck in my head but I am enjoying listening to this although like Elsa (from My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry) it isn't my favorite of the Harry Potter books. I liked the formation of Dumbledore's Army and seeing Dumbledore and other characters outsmart Umbridge.

On my TBR pile:

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

I've never read a book written from the perspective of a transgender teen before and I've heard really good things about If I Was Your Girl. It received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus so I have high hopes.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

I've also heard good things about this contemporary retelling of The Taming of the Shrew from other bloggers so I hope to get to it soon.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

I just featured this for my Waiting on Wednesday pick so I was thrilled when I found it was available to request from Netgalley. I loved Big Little Lies, The Husband's Secret and What Alice Forgot so this is one of my most anticipated reads for the summer. 

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

I've only read Little Bee but I wanted to read this one since it is historical fiction set during WWII.

Exile for Dreamers by Kathleen Baldwin

I can't wait to read this sequel to A School for Unusual Girls. I don't know if I'll get to it this week or have to wait till the weekend when I usually have more time for library books (it's much easier to take my Kindle with me during the week). If I'm really motivated and get through my current book this afternoon maybe I can get started on Exile for Dreamers :)

New books received:

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (for review)

Life Just Got Real by Sadie Robertson (library book)

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain (library book)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer Comment Challenge

I first found out about this challenge when I saw it mentioned by Kathryn from Book Date. I thought it sounded like a fun idea so I've signed up to participate in July. While it is too late to sign up for July now, here are the details in case you want to participate in August:

If you love comments and are looking for a fun blogging challenge to participate in this summer, then the Comment Challenge is for you. Hosted by Lonna @ FLYLēF and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense, the Comment Challenge was created as a way to increase comment activity on your blog and help you forge new connections with other book bloggers. For every month this summer (June through August), we will be pairing different bloggers together and asking them to engage and encourage one another through comments on each other’s blogs. And you are formally invited to join us!
• This challenge will run June through August.
• You are welcome to sign up for one, two, or all three months (a sign-up post will go up a month in advance for each month and will be open for three weeks).
• Bloggers will be paired up for one month and will be required to comment on each other’s blog posts.
• If you sign up for more than one month, you will have a different comment partner each month.
• To allow a bit of freedom, you will be able to choose how often you would like to comment on your partner’s blog (options include 5-10 or 11-20 posts).
• Social Media Option: If you’d like to give your partner further encouragement through social media, we will do our best to connect you with bloggers who are active on the same platforms.
• Giveaway: at the end of August, we will be giving away two bookish prizes. Please note: this giveaway will only be open to participants.

I think this sounds like a good way to get to know other book bloggers and find new blogs to read. I signed up to comment on 5-10 posts. For July I am paired with Lonna at FLYLēF

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review: 738 Days

738 Days
By Stacey Kade
Published: June 7, 2016

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.
Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he's sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?
With charm and heart, Stacey Kade takes readers on a journey of redemption and love.

My review:

Amanda survived the horrific ordeal of being kidnapped and held captive for two years. Two years after her rescue, it is still hard for her to get through the day. She suffers from PTSD, taking comfort in hiding in her closet. Her family has been fractured by what happened to her and they don't treat her the same way. Amanda's mom likes to act like everything is just fine while her dad doesn't even acknowledge her. Her sisters are resentful though younger sister Mia is the only one to treat Amanda in a semi-normal fashion and her resentment is due to her parents' lack of notice. 

Chase is trying to stage a career comeback. He is getting ready to film a movie set in a small town near Amanda. When his publicist comes up with the dubious idea of a publicity shot with Amanda and having her visit the movie set, Chase isn't completely on board with the idea but he could really use some positive publicity so he agrees. When he sees Amanda and how she reacts, he changes his mind but she wants to help his career and get away from home for awhile. Unfortunately there are complications in the form of Chase's cutthroat publicist, a stalker and Chase's past failures.

I felt so bad for Amanda. She suffered a lot and is having a hard time fitting in to her family now that she is back home. I did like how the author portrayed her relationship with her family especially Mia who may be selfish at times but at least she talks to Amanda even if it isn't what Amanda wants to hear. I had a harder time with Amanda's parents though her father's behavior is explained towards the end of the book and I understood why he had been acting that way. The abduction affected more than just Amanda and it definitely took a toll on her sisters and her parents treatment of them too.

While Chase makes some bad decisions he does care about Amanda and I thought that they were really good for each other. My one issue was with the timing of their relationship. This book takes place within a few days although it feels like a longer length of time has passed. It is a little hard to believe that Amanda is able to have a physical relationship with Chase after knowing him just a short amount of time considering the trauma of her past. I liked how the friendship and relationship with Chase blossomed to love but I thought it should have been over a few weeks or a month at least and not just a few days. 

Overall aside from the timing issue, I liked this book and I think readers who enjoy contemporary new adult fiction should give it a try. It offers plenty of romance, some suspense, emotional growth and a strong heroine to root for.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (187)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week, I'm waiting on:

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Release date: July 26, 2016

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?
In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families.
Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.
Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.
Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?
In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

I loved Big Little Lies, The Husband's Secret and What Alice Forgot so I have definite expectations for this one. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top Ten 2016 Releases So Far

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's theme is "Top Ten 2016 Releases So Far This Year".

I still have some books to catch up on  and I'm sure this list will change but here are some of my favorites from 2016 so far:

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I really liked this moving companion novel to Between Shades of Grey featuring Lina's cousin Joana and other teenage refugees in East Prussia during WWII.

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

While not quite as good as Ink and Bone I enjoyed this fantasy novel set in a world where the gift of literacy is only for the nobility and the slaves who tutor future kings.

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

This YA novel is set in the Netherlands during WWII and details the story of a grieving young teen who grudgingly joins the resistance movement when she is asked to find a missing Jewish girl.

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

Beatrice Nash is the new school teacher in the English village of Rye where she is looked on with suspicion by some but welcomed warmly by a few including Agatha Kent and her nephew Hugh. Things become darker over the course of the idyllic summer as social rivalries give way to fears of coming war. While not as good as Major Pettigrew's Last Stand this is still an excellent historical novel for fans of British TV shows like Downton Abbey (don't worry Beatrice is nothing like Miss Bunting) and Home Fires.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

I've become a big Morgan Matson fan. I loved her other books and this fun summertime read is just as good.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

While this sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses won't please everyone, I thought it was even better than the first book and can't wait for the third book.

The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

I loved Secret Daughter so I was very excited when I found out about The Golden Son. I think Secret Daughter is better but this was still a very good story about the lives of two young people in India--Anil, a future doctor on his way to a medical degree in the States and Leena, his childhood friend and now a young bride. If the main character had been Leena instead of Anil, it would have been fantastic.

Somewhere Out There by Amy Hatvany

This is the story of three women--Jennifer who made many mistakes as a young parent and Brooke and Natalie, the daughters she gave up for adoption. Brooke grew up in group homes while Natalie was adopted by a loving couple. Now their paths meet again.

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

This book hasn't been published yet but I read an review copy so I decided to add it to my list. I liked the setting and learning about this time period through the eyes of a family that starts to fall apart during the drought and Dust Bowl.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Post (54) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there today. I visited my parents over the weekend to celebrate Father's Day and my mom's birthday which was last Monday. We had a nice time together and on Saturday we met up with my sister at Starbucks and the four of us then had lunch together at an Indian restaurant. Saturday night we watched Race, the Jesse Owens biopic. It was pretty good and inspiring. I kept thinking that one of the actresses looked really familiar only to realize it was Carice van Houten from Game of Thrones, playing the German film maker Leni Riefenstahl.

This coming week I will be working on last minute stuff for the murder mystery dinner on Thursday. It is my last big program until our Mini Comic Con next month which I'm not as actively involved with. Other than that I don't have much planned. 

Last week on my blog:

Wanderlost by Jen Malone (review)

Books read:

738 Days by Stacey Kade

My review will be posted later this week. I liked this book but I did have some issues with the timeline of their relationship.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

While this book had a strong empowering feminist message, I think it did a disservice to young women who have survived assault because of the portrayal of Hermione (main character) in the aftermath of her rape. The author notes in the afterword that Hermione's experience is atypical (she had a ton of support). The protagonist seemed more concerned with her cheerleading than anything else and her behavior and that of those around her wasn't believable at all. There are many glowing reviews on Goodreads and from review journals but it is the heartfelt reviews of real survivors that informed my opinion of this book.

Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon

Mystic Summer was a quick read and one that I enjoyed. The main character's future plans are in question and she returns to her hometown where she bumps into her ex, now a single dad. 

I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

This is a sad novel with a very vivid setting (Oklahoma Dust Bowl). I don't know how people survived back then under such difficult conditions.

Currently reading:

The Winemakers by Jan Moran

I just started reading this but I will probably have to set it aside soon to start my book club books.

Currently listening to:

Umbridge is so evil! Almost as evil as Voldemort. I am currently at the part where Dumbledore's Army is forming. I always liked reading that part at least.

On my TBR pile:

River Road by Carol Goodman

I plan to start this book right away when I get back to my place. I want to make sure I finish it before my book group meets next Tuesday.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

I was surprised to discover that I don't already have an ARC of this. My ARC must have expired. I am supposed to read it for evening book group. Hopefully a copy will arrive in time.

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

New books received:

With Malice by Eileen Cook (library book)

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin (library book)

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick (library book)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: Wanderlost

By Jen Malone
Published: May 31, 2016

Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.

Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.

Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.

But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

My review:

Recent high school graduate Aubree is not an adventurous person and as the baby in her family she has been coddled and overprotected by her mom. Her older sister Elizabeth is the driven and responsible one who always seems to have it together. So when Elizabeth gets into some legal trouble (it's sort of Aubree's fault) Aubree agrees reluctantly to go to Europe in Elizabeth's place as a tour guide. The stakes are high for Elizabeth as she is counting on a good recommendation to get an internship with a congressman. Aubree doesn't think she has what it takes and when she loses her cellphone and Elizabeth's binder of tour info on the plane it looks like she is in for a rough time.

Reading Wanderlost is a great way to armchair travel through Europe along with Aubree on her madcap adventures. I enjoyed reading about the different countries visited during the tour but I could have used more detail! Although Aubree is initially pretty helpless and whiny she started to grow on me. Her determination to prove herself to her sister and to succeed as a tour guide was admirable and although she wasn't always successful I liked how hard she tried. Aubree matures during the trip with the help of the seniors on her bus and once Sam joins the tour she starts to lighten up and have more fun, inspired by his way with people. One of my favorite parts was the Sound of Music tour and learning about the various filming  locations.

I think this novel is funny and the romance was sweet in spite of the lies. It always makes me cringe to read about characters behaving dishonestly even in this case when Aubree was motivated to lie on behalf of her sister. It was nice to see the sisters grow closer and come to a greater understanding of each other and to see Aubree's mom realize that her daughter is growing up. 

Wanderlost would be perfect as a light summer read especially if you have a yen to travel so put it on your list! I'd suggest it for readers who liked Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin, Maureen Johnson's Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes and for fans of Morgan Matson and Emery Lord.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss