Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunday Post (59) / 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 can't believe that July is already over! This summer is going by too fast for me though I could use a break from the heat. Considering how much I love warmer weather that is saying something!

August will be another busy month with the fair and coworkers going on vacation. The bookmobile will be at the fair which is nice since it gives us some air conditioning and a reprieve from the heat. I am signed up to work three shifts (4 hours each) this year which is unusual. Usually we have enough people signing up so I do just one. Sadly I won't even get to sample the donuts and other fair food unless I break my gluten free diet. I am currently eliminating gluten to see if that helps with some of my health issues. I am planning to continue till my vacation in September.

My parents have decided not to move after all which I am happy about. I think they didn't really want to move to a different city and start over. Instead of packing and trying to find a new house they are busy gardening and getting ready for a visit from some of my mom's relatives from Canada.

Today is the release of the new Harry Potter story. I remember the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I did not go to a midnight release party but instead picked it up at a Borders store (RIP) during daylight hours. I remember standing in line with other Harry Potter fans discussing Snape (is he guilty or innocent?) and what we thought would happen. I thought about going to Barnes and Noble to check out the festivities but then decided it's probably more for children. I may go out and buy a copy of the book at Walmart instead of waiting for my hold at the library. Will you be reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or are you happy leaving things as they ended in Deathly Hallows?

Last two weeks on my blog:

The Winemakers by Jan Moran (review)
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (review)

Books read:

The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo

I didn't think I would like this book. The main character is kind of a trainwreck. To my surprise I ended up liking the story and Mattie grew on me too. My book group members mostly liked it as well.

Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker

I was expecting something more like Heist Society but Smash & Grab is definitely a little darker than that (though it does have humor and romance). I liked the book but didn't love it. It was fun and full of action but there is a lot of stuff to suspend disbelief over and I had some issues with Lexi's motivation for the heist. 

Books listened to:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (reread)

Currently reading:

The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck

I've read a few of her other inspirational novels and I liked the sound of this one with its historical story about a wedding dress shop owner and the related contemporary one about a woman who wants to reopen the shop.

Currently listening to:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (reread)

On my TBR pile:

I am looking forward to reading this contemporary romance soon.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Flying by Carrie Jones

New books received:

Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright

When We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: Truly Madly Guilty

Truly Madly Guilty
By Liane Moriarty
Published: 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.

My review:

Erika and Clementine have a strange friendship. Both women have very different family backgrounds that influenced who they became as adults, particularly Erika who adores Clementine's mother and grew up trying to emulate her. On the surface Erika is uptight and controlled and Clementine finds it difficult to be around her. Although Erika's husband Oliver is more likable, the couples have stilted conversation when they are together so when Erika's neighbor Vid invites them to a barbecue when Clementine is supposed to be coming over, Erika agrees. Clementine and Sam like Vid and his wife Tiffany and find it much easier to talk to them They had a lot of fun together when they met at a party of Erika's. Unfortunately this time something happens at the barbecue that changes the lives of everyone present.

Before the barbecue, Clementine was focused on an important upcoming cello audition and she and Sam had a loving marriage. Everything seemed to be falling into place. After the barbecue, she and Sam are barely speaking to each other and their marriage is on the rocks. Erika and Oliver have their own issues to deal with including Erika's mother and a big secret. Worst of all, Erika has blacked out what happened at the barbecue and she is struggling to remember something important.

At first I thought it was harder to identify with Erika but as her secrets were revealed I felt more sympathy for her. Clementine had what seemed to be an ideal life but now she is struggling. Both women need each other but have so much to work through before they can even think about renewing a friendship. Something Liane Moriarty does well is explore female friendships and their complications and intricacies. 

Truly Madly Guilty reminded me of Big Little Lies in the way it used a similar storytelling device--the reader learns early on about a big incident that took place but what actually happened is slowly revealed. In this case it is a terrible incident that occurred at the barbecue and the story flashes back and forth between the day of the barbecue and present day where the characters are living with the fallout. While this can increase suspense, I found the pacing to be slow until the last half of the book but readers who stick with it will be rewarded in the end.  I think readers who enjoyed Big Little Lies or The Husband's Secret will like Truly Madly Guilty. While I prefer Big Little Lies, I liked this novel and think it would make a great choice for summer reading or book discussion groups.

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (191)

"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:

The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson
Release date: September 13, 2016

Frustrated suffragette and would-be archaeologist Ellie Mallory stumbles across a map to a city that shouldn't exist, a jungle metropolis alive and flourishing centuries after the Mayan civilization mysteriously collapsed. Discovering it would make her career, but Ellie isn't the only one after the prize. A disgraced professor and his ruthless handler are hot on her heels, willing to go any extreme to acquire the map for themselves.

To race them through the uncharted jungle, Ellie needs a guide. The only one with the expertise is maverick surveyor Adam Bates. But with his determination to nose his way into Ellie's many secrets, Bates is a dangerous partner.

As Ellie gets closer to her goal, she realizes it's not just her ambitions at stake. A powerful secret lies hidden in the heart of the city - and if it falls into the wrong hands, it could shake the very fate of the world.

"Fans of spirited heroines, dashing heroes, and perilous mysteries will love this rollicking adventure. A thoroughly engaging debut!"—New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn

I think this sounds like a fun adventure, similar to some of Deanna Raybourn's own novels. I can't wait!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: The Winemakers

The Winemakers
By Jan Moran
Published: April 5, 2016

A young woman
A family secret
A devastating truth that could destroy the man she loves

Many years ago, the Rosetta family’s hard-won dreams of staking their claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition. Now high-spirited, passionate Caterina Rosetta, who has inherited both her mother’s talent for crafting the finest wines and also her indomitable will, wants nothing more than to win her mother’s approval and work at her side. But that can never happen, because Caterina is keeping a secret that could ruin her: a daughter of her own, fathered by the love of her life, who left her without explanation. Just as she feels she has nowhere to turn, Caterina discovers that she has inherited a vineyard in the Tuscan countryside in Italy, from a grandmother she’s never heard of, and she seizes the chance to start a new life for herself and her child.

But the past is not so easily outrun. In the country of her ancestors, Caterina meets the family of the father she never knew, and discovers that her mother is also hiding her own secret—a secret so devastating it threatens the future of everything her family has worked for. As an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragedy that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried past—if she has the strength to face it.

From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.

My review:

Caterina has been keeping a secret from her strict mother. She has a little girl out of wedlock and while she was urged by the kind people at the maternity home to give her up for adoption, Marisa is too precious to her and she couldn't go through with it. Now she has to go home to the family winery and face the music. 

Ava Rosetti has also been keeping big secrets from her daughter, secrets involving her Caterina's father and his family but when a lawyer visits about Caterina's inheritance she knows that at least some of her secrets are about to be exposed.

Caterina and Ava are both strong willed women who love deeply. At first Ava appears to be cold and heartless but as her past comes to light, it becomes apparent that her actions are motivated by a desire to protect those she loves and her coldness is a byproduct of the pain and sorrow she has suffered. 

The Winemakers is the story of two women who on the surface seem to be very different but at heart are much the same. If they hope to save their home and livelihood and all they have built together they will have to learn to trust each other and share their hearts before it is too late.

I initially found it hard to like Ava. She comes across as unloving and strict and I could see why Caterina was worried about revealing her secret. It wasn't until I found out about Ava's own difficult life that I started to feel sympathy for her. It is much easier to like Caterina though I didn't think she should keep her daughter a secret from the baby's father.  Caterina had some growing up to do but it is obvious from the beginning how much she loves her daughter and is willing to fight for her.

There is an element of suspense involving a threat to the safety of Caterina, her family and the winery. Towards the end of the novel, this became melodramatic and the villain was rather one dimensional. Overall however I liked the book because of the relationships between the characters, the setting and description and the unveiling of long buried secrets. 

I think The Winemakers would be a good beach read, the kind of book you enjoy on a lazy sunny day with a glass of wine. If you like historical fiction with romance and suspense, consider giving The Winemakers a try this summer.

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (190)

"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:

Interference by Kay Honeyman
Release date: September 27, 2016

Friday Night Lights meets Jane Austen's Emma in this wonderful novel about a big election, big games, the big state of Texas, and a little romance. 

As a Congressman's daughter in Washington, D.C., Kate Hamilton is good at getting what she wants -- what some people might call "interfering." But when her family moves to West Texas so her dad can run in a special election, Kate encounters some difficulties that test all her political skills. None of her matchmaking efforts go according to plan. Her father's campaign gets off to a rough start. A pro tip for moving to Texas: Don't slam the star quarterback's hand in a door. And whenever Kate messes up, the irritatingly right (and handsome) Hunter Price is there to witness it. But Kate has determination and a good heart, and with all her political savvy -- and a little clever interference -- she'll figure out what it takes to make Red Dirt home.

Terrifically funny and sweetly romantic, with whip-crack dialogue and a wise perspective on growing up, INTERFERENCE is the perfect next read for fans of Jenny Han, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Eulberg, or Sarah Dessen.

The last book I read that was compared to both Friday Night Lights and Jane Austen was First & Then by Emma Mills which I really liked even though I'm not a football fan. Hopefully Interference will be just as good. It certainly sounds like a fun story!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Top Ten Books Set Outside the United States

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 Books Set Outside the United States"


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi 

Sri Lanka and India

On Sal Mal Lane by Ru Freeman 
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda 

Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese 
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill 
Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron 

Italy and France

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
Lady of the Glen by Jennifer Roberson


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sunday Post (58) / 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 am posting late this week because I've had problems with my laptop and connecting to the Internet. I'm not sure what the issue is but I suspect it is the laptop and not my Internet connection because I am able to use WiFi on my phone, Kindle and Roku. This morning after two days of not using it, I decided to try my laptop again. I had some issues with Yahoo Mail not loading but so far I am able to visit other websites again and work on this post so that is something. Hopefully whatever the issue was, it is resolved now. 

It has been a crazy week. My parents have sold their house. They don't have a closing date yet and they have to find a new house in Fort Wayne in the meantime. Houses there are being sold the same day they go on the market so it could be a bit of a challenge. My sister lives there and has been out scouting houses. I am happy for them but also sad as I will miss my childhood home and likely never return to that area once my parents move away. 

At the library, we had our second Comic Con in the 'Burg. While we didn't have as many people as last year (possibly because we didn't advertise enough) it was still a successful event. We had a Manga artist from the area teach a class on drawing Manga faces and the comic book and collectibles vendors were a big hit too. We borrowed a 3-D printer from Kent State when our plans for a presenter fell through. My job was to demonstrate the 3-D printer and print some Comic Con related stuff but while I was able to use it earlier in the week it decided to quit working on Friday so it just sat there like a display. It was cool while it worked though and surprisingly easy to use. My favorite thing I printed was a BB-8 cookie cutter.

The cosplay contest went well (I was a judge and it was hard to choose from all the great costumes--Best in Show went to a teen dressed as the Eleventh Doctor). I ended up dressing up as Supergirl. I just found a cheap Superman t-shirt for boys and then glued rhinestones on the Superman symbol and added some sequin trim to the sleeves. The final touch was a red cape I found at Party City. I chose to wear jeans and my Sketchers instead of a short red skirt and boots so my outfit wasn't totally authentic but it was comfortable and appropriate for work :)

#FitReaders is hosted by Felicia at The Geeky Blogger and Jen at That's What I'm Talking About 

Sunday--2,240 steps
Monday--10,753 steps
Tuesday--3,877 steps
Wednesday--5,369 steps
Thursday--13,025 steps
Friday--12,414 steps
Saturday--15,457 steps

Last week on my blog:

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash (review)

Books read:

Monsoon Summer by Julia Gregson

I'm still not quite sure how I feel about this book. My review is due really soon so I need to figure it out. 

Margherita's Notebook by Elisabetta Flumeri and Gabriella Giacometti

I thought this was a fun book and I loved the setting and description of food. The writing style was a little different.

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

I really enjoyed this historical/contemporary thriller The cover is not accurate (the historical part is set in the Regency) and there were definitely some other inaccuracies/historical license but it was still fun to read and try to figure out who the killer was. I think readers who like historical fiction and suspense would enjoy this if they can suspend their disbelief.

Currently reading:

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Currently listening to:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (reread)

On my TBR pile:

The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo

We are reading this for July in my evening book group. Our meeting is next Tuesday so I want to move this up my TBR pile.

Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker

This sounds like it has a similar vibe to Ally Carter's Heist Society books. Hopefully it will be just as fun to read.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

This looks like a cute contemporary romance and might be just what I need for light summer reading.

Flying by Carrie Jones

I'm kind of hoping this will be like Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with aliens. :)

The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

New Arrivals:

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine (library book)

The Darkest Hour by Caroline Tung Richmond (for review)

Flying by Carrie Jones (for review)

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes (won from Confessions of a Book Addict)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review: The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love
By Sarvenaz Tash
Published: June 14, 2016

Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy...

Archie and Veronica...

Althena and Noth...

...Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxana, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago, and she asked him which Hogwarts house he'd be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they're sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever--moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year's New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He's got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be...even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.

My review:

Graham has decided that he will tell his best friend Roxy that he loves her at New York Comic Con. What better place to declare his feelings since they both have a shared love of comics? They even created their own comic together. When Roxy finds out that the reclusive Robert Zinc, creater of The Chronicles of Althena, is going to speak at a panel, Graham knows he has to get Roxy tickets somehow. It is going to be a Comic Con to remember. Unfortunately things don't go quite according to plan but Graham doesn't give up hope that he will win Roxy's heart.

Graham reminded me of Ducky from Pretty in Pink (the movie is referenced in the book) if Ducky was an artistic nerd. Actually I liked Graham more than Ducky who came across as whiny in comparison. Graham is a total sweetheart. He reminded me of Barry Allen from The Flash (CW TV show version) who is also in love with his best friend, Iris. I really felt for Graham. I think it would be very awkward and nerve wracking to develop feelings for your best friend and be unsure if your best friend felt the same way.  I didn't like Roxy as much as Graham though I did like her and their friendship. I thought the flashback memories between them were sweet. I think the author did a great job of exploring the changing nature of friendships. 

I thought the secondary characters were fun, especially Amelia and Felicia. I really liked how all the characters were true to themselves and awesome in their own nerdy way. Something else I liked was that Graham's dad was a big Star Wars geek and I loved the scene where they talked about going to Comic Con together sometime. So nice to see parents and families portrayed in a positive way in teen fiction!

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love was a joy to read. It is a sweet and funny story about friendship, love and fandom. There are plenty of references to comics and pop culture from Doctor Who to Star Wars, the Harry Potter series and The Princess BrideI loved the setting and getting to experience New York Comic Con vicariously. I appreciated the little details that made the experience feel authentic, even the use of the fictional comic The Chronicles of Althena. That part reminded me of reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Other similar books include The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson and Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern. 

If you've dreamed of going to a Comic Con someday or if you are a fan of  Pretty in Pink or any of the books mentioned, you should consider adding The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love to your summer reading list. It is one of my favorite teen contemporary novels of the year so far.

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