Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: P.S. I Like You

P.S. I Like You
By Kasie West
Published: July 26, 2016

Signed, sealed, delivered... 

While spacing out in Chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk, and added a message to her. Intrigue! 

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters -- sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she's kind of falling for this letter writer. Only who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery, and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can't always be spelled out... 

Kasie West brings irresistible wit, warmth, and sparkle to this swoon-worthy story of love showing up when you least expect it.

My review:

Lily hopes to be a songwriter someday and she carries around a notebook where she writes down lyrics and song ideas.  She loves playing the guitar and has her own sense of music and fashion style. She even makes her own clothes. I liked how she was so individual though she also had insecurities. Lily is hesitant about sharing her songs with anyone, even her best friend or her family. Lily comes from a close-knit if at times annoying family. Her parents are loving and she has an older sister she shares a room with and two mischievous younger brothers. I liked how devoted she was to them even though she also wanted her own space. 

Lily's life isn't perfect though as she is teased by Cade Jennings, her longtime nemesis. Cade used to date Lily's best friend Isabel when they were younger but he and Lily haven't gotten along since her gave her the nickname "Magnet" in gym class. Lily also faces some bullying from mean girl Sasha who just seems to hate her for being unique. My one complaint about this book would be that Sasha is so one dimensional. 

It was fun reading Lily's letters back and forth with her pen pal and seeing how much she changes because of it. She starts to realize some truths about herself and other people in her life like Cade. Lily has a list of possible "suspects" that could be her mysterious letter writer but she doesn't really want to know because it would ruin something special. What will happen when she does find out the truth? 

This was such a cute contemporary teen romance and a fast read. It had echoes of You've Got Mail, a movie I love. It was pretty obvious who the letter writer was and I couldn't wait to see how things resolved between him and Lily. I really liked how the author portrayed Lily's family and how the book was about more than romance. Lily has issues to work through and so does her love interest who has a difficult home life. The letters allowed the protagonists to share their feelings and family troubles and worries as well as lighthearted stuff in a way that might not have happened otherwise. I think this book would appeal to young teens who like Morgan Matson and Emery Lord as well as fans of You've Got Mail.

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (195)

"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:

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Release date: September 20, 2016

I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. 
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one. 
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?
Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettably heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Libba Bray, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassandra Clare.

I like the sound of this teen fantasy novel with a main character who isn't the "chosen one". 

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Release date: January 31, 2017

Following in the footsteps of her critically acclaimed novel If You Only Knew, multi-bestselling author Kristan Higgins returns with a pitch-perfect look at the affection—and the acrimony—that binds sisters together

Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half sister, Kate, who's already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband.

Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan's death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and sometimes the people who step up aren't the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one.

Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

While I've enjoyed some of her contemporary romance novels, I loved If You Only Knew and I'm thrilled that she is writing another novel in the same vein with On Second Thought. Glad I have something to look forward to reading this winter!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review: The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay

The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay
By Kelly Harms
Published: August 9, 2016

Lily Stewart has reached a crossroads in her life. Her painting career hasn't taken off, her best friend has changed beyond recognition, her relationship is a constant disappointment, and now she can't keep up with the rising cost of living in the city. With no one to turn to, Lily is forced to move from her beloved apartment, but while packing she comes across a piece of mail that had slipped to the back of her junk drawer: a letter detailing further action needed to finalize the annulment of a quickie Vegas wedding. From ten years ago!

Lily decides it's time to gather up the pieces of her life, and the first item on her list of things to fix is that annulment... but you can't just send a text ten years later reading, "Hey BTW we are still married." This is something that must be addressed in person, so Lily decides to track down her husband - the charming, enigmatic man she connected with all those years ago.

Ben Hutchinson left a high-profile dot-com lifestyle behind to return home to his family and the small lake town he loves, Minnow Bay. He's been living off the grid with the express purpose of making it hard to be found—so the last thing he expects is a wife he didn't know he had making her presence known.

By chance, Lily finds her way to the magical Minnow Bay Inn. There she will discover not just a place to lay her head, but new friends, new inspiration, and maybe even a new chance to fall in love.

Kelly Harms lights up the page in this story of the surprising beauty of past mistakes and the unexpected pleasures of correcting them.

My review:

Lily is one of those people who just can't get their act together and she doesn't like things to change. She is a talented painter but she has a sort of artist's block and has been painting the same scene from her apartment window for months. Her romance with Mitchell, who is also her gallerist,  is stagnating and when she loses her apartment, it is the final straw. She tries to turn to Mitchell, her best friend Renee and even her brother for help but none of them want to help her. Renee and Mitchell don't even want her to stay with them temporarily. So when she comes across the annulment form she never took care of from a Vegas wedding to a stranger ten years ago, Lily decides to go to Minnow Bay and see him in person.

Minnow Bay is one of those small towns where everyone knows everyone else's business and there are an awful lot of Hutchinsons in town. Lily is surprised by what she discovers when she meets Ben again. He is nothing like the suave playboy she expected. He lives in a shack without heat for one thing. He is less than pleased to see her at first, sure she is there for his money. While they start off on the wrong foot with each other, it is plain to see that Ben and Lily have some unfinished business.

On the surface this appears to be a romance novel but it is so much more. Lily makes some really good friends like the innkeeper, Colleen who is struggling with her own issues or Jenny, a gallerist who helps Lily get back into art. There is also Simone, a teenage artist who reminds Jenny of herself as a teen. Lily's new friends help her heal and rediscover herself and what she wants out of life. Does she want to go back to New York and Mitchell or does she want to start over in Minnow Bay? Of course there is some romance and the town seems determined to get Lily and Ben back together again. 

Overall I found this to be a charming and delightful story. There were times when I wanted to shake Lily for not realizing the truth but I liked the journey she takes and seeing her change. While Mitchell is a one-note character I appreciated the depth brought to Lily's relationship with Renee. I initially wanted to throttle Renee for being a bad friend but there is some history between them and things do get better.

Although this book was published in the summer I think it would be perfect to read this winter in front of a fire with a mug of coffee or tea. I could see this being made into a Hallmark movie (and I mean that as a compliment). Other similar books include Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon, If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins, The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer and The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe by Mary Simses.

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (194)

"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:

Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
Release date: September 27, 2016

The sequel to the New York Times–bestselling and National Book Award longlisted Walk on Earth a Stranger

After her harrowing journey west to California, Lee Westfall has finally found a new home—one rich in gold, thanks to her magical power, a power that seems to be changing every day. But this home is rich in other ways, too: with friends who are searching for a place to be themselves, just as she is, and with love. Jefferson—her longtime best friend—hasn’t stopped trying to win her heart. And Lee is more and more tempted to say yes.

But her uncle Hiram hasn’t given up his quest to get Lee and her power under his control. When she’s kidnapped and taken to him, Lee sees firsthand the depths of her uncle’s villainy. Yet Lee’s magic is growing. Gold no longer simply sings to her, it listens. It obeys her call. Is it enough to destroy her uncle once and for all?

Rae Carson, acclaimed author of the Girl of Fire and Thorns series, takes us deep into the gold fields as she continues this sweeping saga of magic and history, and an unforgettable heroine who must come into her own.

I loved the first book, which mostly took place on a wagon train heading west across the frontier (one of my favorite historical settings)  and I think this sequel sounds fantastic and more like a historical fantasy rather than straightforward historical fiction. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Top Ten Books Set in Another World

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 in..."

My top ten books set in another world:

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Alienated by Melissa Landers
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

Honorable mention:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Post (61) / 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.

It was such a crazy week and I'm so glad it is over! I was supposed to work three shifts at the fair but it was so hot and I felt sick from the heat and some tummy issues so I only did two shifts and got a coworker to cover my Saturday evening shift. We had a bad location so not very many people stopped by and the heat wave and thunderstorms certainly didn't help. Although the fair didn't go the way we'd hoped, it wasn't all bad. I got to know one of my newer coworkers better and saw some cute llamas and a goat in the animal barn. 

On a positive note although I was having car problems last weekend when I had it towed to my mechanic on Monday it started right up and they couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. So far it is running okay and hopefully will continue! 

This Wednesday is my 38th birthday. I have the day off and I'm going to the massage therapist and maybe I'll do some shoe shopping. I still desperately need a new pair of comfortable walking shoes especially with the Williamsburg trip coming up in less than a month. On Friday I'll be going to visit my parents for the weekend. My mom wants to make me a birthday cake but I need to find something gluten free that actually tastes good. 

Last week on my blog:

Flying by Carrie Jones (review)

Books read:

This was a nice quick read. The romance was balanced by the secondary characters and friendships that developed. I could easily see this being made into a Hallmark film.

Even though I already knew the big "twists" from reading reviews (on purpose) I found this to be an entertaining play as long as I read it as fan fiction which is what it reads like.  Even if it wasn't written in play format, the characters and plot and dialogue were not like J.K. Rowling's from the Harry Potter series. If you're not sure about reading this, I recommend getting it from the library like I did. I will say that I liked Scorpius and seeing Draco as a dad but it could have been a much better story without the parts that seemed like they'd be at home in The Quibbler.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

This was such a fun romantic comedy especially with its similarity to You've Got Mail. I liked the main character and how devoted she was to her crazy family.

Currently reading:

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

My evening book group picked this for our August book. Our meeting will be at an area winery where we plan to take a tour and then do a wine tasting. I hope it will add to the discussion.

Currently listening to:

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

I am now at the part where Ron has come back and they've gone to see Xenophilius Lovegood. One of my least favorite parts of the book is coming up.

On my TBR pile:

United by Melissa Landers

I am looking forward to reading this final book in the Alienated series to see how everything is resolved.

The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

This book sounds like a mix of Desperate Housewives and the novels of Liane Moriarty. Should make for some engrossing reading.

The Reader by Traci Chee

I was so happy to get an ARC of The Reader this week. It's received some glowing reviews and I can't wait to start it.

A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

Since this book is being published on Tuesday I hope to read it this week but at the same time I'm not sure I'm in the mood for it yet. I know the story will probably be pretty grim. I love her writing though and The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is one of my favorites.

New books received:

United by Melissa Landers (library book)

Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen (library book)

The Reader by Traci Chee (for review)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Review: Flying

By Carrie Jones
Published: July 19, 2016

New York Times bestselling author Carrie Jones introduces sassy alien-hunting cheerleader Mana in Flying, the launch of a sparkling new YA Science Fiction series.

People have always treated seventeen-year-old Mana as someone in need of protection. She's used to being coddled, being an only child, but it's hard to imagine anything could ever happen in her small-town, normal life. As her mother's babying gets more stifling than ever, she's looking forward to cheering at the big game and getting out of the house for a while.

But that night, Mana's life goes haywire.

First, the hot guy she's been crushing on at school randomly flips out and starts spitting acid during the game. Then they get into a knockdown, drag-out fight in the locker room, during which Mana finds herself leaping around like a kangaroo on steroids. As a flyer on the cheerleading squad, she's always been a good jumper, but this is a bit much. By the time she gets home and finds her house trashed and an alien in the garage, Mana starts to wonder if her mother had her reasons for being overprotective.

It turns out, Mana's frumpy, timid mom is actually an alien hunter, and now she's missing--taking a piece of technology with her that everyone wants their hands on, both human and alien. Now her supposed partner, a guy that Mana has never met or heard of (and who seems way too young and way too arrogant to be hunting aliens), has shown up, ordering Mana to come with him. Now, on her own for the first time, Mana will have to find a way to save her mother--and maybe the world--and hope she's up to the challenge.

My review:

Mana is a spunky cheerleader with a somewhat normal life and an obsession with penguins. She is tiny and people have a tendency to be overprotective of her, including her two best friends, Lyle and September (Seppie). Mana's life changes the night she goes to a game only to see Dakota Dunham get "kidnapped" only to realize that Dakota isn't a normal teen but an alien who can spit acid. Later that night she goes home to find her mom is missing and there is an alien in her house. When her mom's alien hunting partner China shows up, it's about all Mana can take. She is determined to find her mom but she isn't sure who she can trust outside of Lyle and Seppie. She also isn't sure about these strange new powers she has. Could she be an alien too?

I liked Mana. She is an interesting contradiction of a strong heroine who at the same time can be a little babyish because of the way she was raised and overprotected by her mom. I enjoyed seeing her find her own strength. I was glad that she had good friends in her life who were there for her when she needed them but she did need to stand on her own two feet and I think she learns how to do that by the end of the book.

Lyle is a caring best friend and Mana is seriously falling for him though she tried to use a crush on Dakota Dunham to keep her feelings for Lyle from ruining their friendship in case he didn't feel the same about her. Seppie sort of disappears from the story for awhile as Mana and Lyle go on the run but she shows up when Mana needs her and she is pretty awesome too. 

The book has a lot of action and humor. It reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as Cassandra Clare's City of Bones (but with a lighter touch and without all the angst and emotional drama) and Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen. Overall I thought it was fun and a quick read, perfect for a rainy afternoon. There are some questions left unanswered that I hope will be explained in the sequel. I think readers who liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Men in Black or the Alienated series by Melissa Landers should give this a try.

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (193)

"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:

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz
Release date: October 4, 2016

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what's expected of her. Pretty and popular, she's studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she's trying to make sense of her new world, it's turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she's not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

I think this sounds promising--and very different from what I've come to expect from the author of the Blue Bloods, Au Pairs and Witches of East End series.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Hilarious Titles

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 Tuesday Rewind so I chose  "Top Ten Hilarious Book Titles". 

*Note: I haven't read most of these so I don't know if the books are actually funny*

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin
The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain
How to Kill Your Husband (And Other Handy Household Hints) by Kathy Lette

Sometimes I Wake Up Grumpy and Sometimes I Let Him Sleep by Karen Scalf Linamen
I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal)
Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal)
Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog by Lisa Scottoline

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunday Post (60) / 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.

This week started out okay but the weekend wasn't that great. After work yesterday I decided to do some shopping since we have a tax holiday in Ohio this weekend. When I went to start my car afterward, it wouldn't start. I called AAA and just like I expected it was not my battery (I just got a new one last year). It might be my starter. I ended up having my car towed back to my apartment and now I'll have to see if I can find a garage to fix it tomorrow. 

I've been saving money for my trip to Williamsburg and hopefully to move this fall when my lease is up but now it looks like that is not going to happen :( It seems like every time I start to build my savings, something bad happens either with my car, my teeth, or my health. It's been like that for the past six years which is really frustrating! 

On the positive side I did get to see Star Trek Beyond on Friday and I really liked it. I also had my first evaluation since I became the reference department supervisor and I received a glowing review. This week I'll be at the county fair for a few days with the bookmobile. I hope the weather will be good. It's at the new fair grounds so we are anticipating a big turnout.

Last week on my blog:

Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker (review)

Books read:

The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck

This is a companion novel to The Wedding Dress. I liked it but thought the first book was better.

Flying by Carrie Jones

I though this was such a fun book though the main character occasionally irritated me. It reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Currently reading:

Sometimes a predictable romance is just what I need. The main character's life is a bit of a mess. She got married to a stranger 10 years ago in Vegas and forgot to sign their divorce papers which she finds when she is evicted from her apartment. She drives to Minnow Bay to see him in person and hand over the papers but then gets stuck there due to circumstances (and a little help from some town matchmakers).

Currently listening to:

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

I'm at the part in the book where Harry, Ron and Hermione break into the Ministry of Magic. Exciting stuff. 

On my TBR pile:

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

I definitely plan to read P.S. I Like You this week. I am in the mood for more YA contemporary I think.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

I got this from my library although I already know the gist of the story. I decided to read the spoilery reviews after seeing all the poor ratings on Amazon. I plan to treat it as fan fiction and not "canon" and give it a try though I don't think I'll like it.

A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

I love Nadia Hashimi's books and I hope to read this soon. I know it will be sad but also good. This particular story is set in a women's prison in Afghanistan. The main character is accused of murdering her husband but she is in shock and can't remember what happened.

Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis

I've had this ARC for over a year now and just remembered it. It's a sci-fi retelling of The Wild Swans, similar to what Marissa Meyer did with her Lunar Chronicles series. I don't know if the characters from the first book, Stitching Snow will show up or if it is a companion novel only.

New books received (from the library):

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

Falling by Jane Green

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne