Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: This Shattered World

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Pub. Date: December 23, 2014

Goodreads says, " Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met. Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents. Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion. Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war. The stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war."

I absolutely loved These Broken Stars when I read it last year. It was one of my favorite books of 2013, so I am excited to check out this companion novel.   What do you guys think?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin

Pages: 352
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date:  June 4, 2013
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the bus in East Hampton, it's as if she's entered another universe, one populated by impossibly beautiful people wearing pressed khakis and driving expensive cars. She's signed on to be a summer errand girl for the Rules -- a wealthy family with an enormous beachfront mansion. Upon arrival, she's warned by other staff members to avoid socializing with the family, but Rory soon learns that may be easier said than done. Stifled by her friends and her family's country club scene, seventeen-year-old Isabel Rule, the youngest of the family, embarks on a breathless romance with a guy whom her parents would never approve of. It's the summer for taking chances, and Isabel is bringing Rory along for the ride. But will Rory's own summer romance jeopardize her friendship with Isabel? And, after long-hidden family secrets surface, will the Rules' picture-perfect world ever be the same?"
Rory McShane decides to spend the summer at the Hamptons working for a wealthy family; it's the same wealthy family her Aunt Fee is a housekeeper for. The Hamptons is a welcome escape from her needy mother and her string of bad boyfriends that somehow find their way into their apartment.  All Rory has to do is run errands for the Rule family and in turn she gets to live in this gorgeous beach front mansion.  Rory assumes it will be smooth sailing until she meets the youngest Rule, Isabel, who is bratty, conniving and all around horrible.  However, Isabel grows as a person as the story progresses, especially when she starts a romance with a local surfer boy who shockingly isn't wealthy. Also, Rory finds herself attracted to Connor Rule, Isabel's brother, who seems, surprisingly, like a decent guy, but she knows a romance with him would be forbidden on many levels.  One thing is for sure, this summer is proving to be a crazy one for both Isabel and Rory.  Joanna Philbin's Rules of Summer is not a mind-blowing, life-altering book by any means, but it's a fun summertime escape.

Rory is the type of character that always tries to do the right thing in Rules of Summer.  I really admired her at times, especially when she was dealing with her crazy mother who depends on her way more than she should. Rory not only does well at school, but she also takes care of her deadbeat mom, pays the bills, etc.  I don't blame Rory for wanting to escape to The Hamptons and branch out a bit.  

On the other hand, Isabel was a tough character to warm up to in Rules of Summer. She's the quintessential rich brat and totally out of the set of Gossip Girl.  As she spent more time with Mike, the local surfer boy, I found myself being less irritated by her, but nonetheless, she wasn't my favorite character, even when she was nice to Rory. 

Philbin does a good job portraying the Hamptons and the lifestyle of the wealthy. It seemed like the author knew what she was talking about and then I realized she is the daughter of Regis Philbin, so perhaps she is writing from experience.  All in all, I think Philbin captured a summer in the Hamptons very well including the many shallow rich people that one may encounter especially when you are the housekeeper's niece.  

If you are looking for a summertime read that's a fun escape and has an Upstairs Downstairs vibe, check out Joanna Philbin's Rules of Summer. Even though I found it to be mostly predictable, I still enjoyed the diversion and plan to check out book two, Since Last Summer, which follows the characters to the next summer. Who can say no to another leisurely summer in the Hamptons?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Five (7)

So I thought it might be fun this summer to try writing a more personal post every Friday highlighting some things going on in my life that aren't necessarily book related.  Let me know what you think!

1.  Summer Reading Goal Update - I set a goal to read 15 particular books this summer and I have read all but three, which I think is pretty good as I tend to be a random reader. I hope to read two more from the list before summer is over. How have you guys done with your summer reading goals?

2.  Robin Williams - There are no words that will do Robin Williams or my feelings towards him justice, but I know this scene from Dead Poets Society (one of my favorite movies!) has made a big impact on my life. He was so very talented and will be sorely missed.

3.  Autumn, already? - I was at the supermarket this past Sunday and noticed something that stopped me in my tracks: fall leaves and pumpkin decorations.  Yes, that's right. It was barely mid-August and the store was decorated for fall. Now don't get me wrong, I love me some pumpkin and football, but seriously? Why must we rush through every season? It's not even Labor Day yet! The summer girl within me was sobbing.  Are they going to decorate for Christmas in October? I am tired of rushing through life. Ridiculous.

4.  The Giver movie - Anyone planning to see this movie? I love The Giver and am excited to see it being made into a movie.  I hope that the movie does this book justice. I remember when I student taught this book eleven years ago. Boys and girls alike were completely engrossed. It's such a great novel!

 Avalon, NJ - Source
5.  Beachin' It- I normally head to the beach most weekends, but it has been almost a month since I have been there (cue all the tears), thanks to being sick a lot this summer and some stormy weather. I am FINALLY going back down to the shore this weekend and I couldn't be happier. Let's hope some sun, a good book, and my little guy playing in the ocean is in the equation this weekend.

Thanks for visiting and Happy Friday,

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: Island Girls by Nancy Thayer

Pages: 320
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 18, 2013
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Charming ladies’ man Rory Randall dies with one last trick up his sleeve: His will includes a calculating clause mandating a summer-long reunion for his daughters, all from different marriages—that is, if they hope to inherit his posh Nantucket house. Relations among the three sisters are sour thanks to long-festering jealousies, resentments, and misunderstandings. Arden, a successful television host in Boston, hasn’t been back to the island since her teenage years, when accusations of serious misbehavior led to her banishment. College professor Meg hopes to use her summer to finish a literary biography and avoid an amorous colleague. And secretive Jenny, an IT specialist, faces troubling questions about her identity while longing for her sisters’ acceptance.  To their surprise, the three young women find their newfound sisterhood easier to trust than the men who show up to complicate their lives. And if that weren’t problematic enough, their mothers descend on the island. When yet another visitor drops by the house with shocking news, the past comes screaming back with a vengeance. Having all the women from his life under his seaside roof—and overseeing the subsequent drama of that perfect storm—Rory Randall might just be enjoying a hearty laugh from above."
Rory Randall is a bit of bit of a womanizer; he has married three times and has two daughters from different wives and an adopted daughter.  He died unexpectedly and in his will he states that he will give his Nantucket home to his three daughters under one condition: they must live there together for one summer.  The problem is the three sisters don't necessarily get along, thanks to some drama that occurred there as children involving Rory's third wife.  Rory's first daughter, Arden, was a bit of a wild child back in the day, but is now a semi-famous local TV show host.  Arden's half-sister, Meg, is bookish and teaches at the local community college.  The last daughter, Jenny, whom Rory adopted, lives on Nantucket as a computer specialist and is especially nervous about a summer together with her stepsisters since it's her mother who made it so Arden and Meg couldn't visit their father on Nantucket anymore. All three girls are thirty-something now and should be able to get along; however, it proves to be a life-changing summer for the sisters in Nancy Thayer's Island Girls.

When you read a book with three main characters, you can't help but be interested in one woman's story more than another and that was most definitely the case in Island Girls.  I liked how Arden was ambitious and even though she has been dealt a bad hand at work, she still tries to prove herself. Even when she is "vacationing" in Nantucket, she is still thinking of her job and researching for future shows.  The character I connected the most with was bookish, Meg, obviously. I wasn't a big fan of her lack of confidence, but I liked that she was overall a decent person and was writing a book.  Lastly, Jenny was an overall interesting character, especially when it came to understanding her backstory as Jenny doesn't know who her biological father is.

While on Nantucket, all three women learn more about themselves, about their sisters, and about love.  All three girls are involved in a romantic relationship by the novel's end and of course, there are some family secrets that rise to the surface in Island Girls.  Plus, things get even more complicated when all three women's mothers come to the island for the night. Cue the drama.

Thayer did a great job of capturing summer on the beautiful island of Nantucket. I loved reading about their cocktails outside on the patio, the fancy dinners, their gorgeous beach house and warm summer nights under the stars.  There's no doubt in my mind that Thayer really knows her sense of place in Island Girls.

My only complaint about this beach read was the fact that important events, such as their father's untimely death, were sort of glossed over except for one scene involving a little bit of mourning.  But I guess that is what readers come to expect in a beach read….not a lot of depth or character development and more summertime fun.  There were also some coincidences that I had a hard time swallowing, but all in all, I had fun following the three sisters' summer in Island Girls.  

So, if you are looking for a fluffy beach read with not a lot of depth (and sometimes that is what you need on vacation!), Nancy Thayer's Island Girls fits the bill.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Start of Me and You

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Pub. Date: March 31, 2015

Goodreads says, "It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for a year, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live? Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances."

Guys, I loved Open Road Summer  (one of my favorite books of the year!) and am excited to get my hands on a copy of her next book. Plus, that cover is perfection. What do you guys think?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Pages: 492
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: July 8, 2014
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "She flees on her wedding day. She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection. She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father. She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan. The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance. Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love."
Lia's life has been mapped out for her. She is to marry a foreign prince (one whom she has never met before) and in turn, her country, along with her future husband's, will be secure.  Lia has no choice in the matter, because she is First Daughter and her world is steeped in tradition.  But Lia doesn't want that life. Instead she escapes on the day of her wedding, along with her best friend Pauline, to a seaside village where no one knows her or her past.  She obtains a job as a barmaid at a local pub and works in the inn there as well.  Two young men enter the pub and Lia has no clue that one man is an assassin who has been sent to kill her and the other is the young prince she abruptly jilted.  Things start to get more complicated for Lia, especially when she starts to have feelings for one of the men in The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson.

Lia is the type of heroine I like in The Kiss of Deception. She's strong, gutsy, and determined. I could understand where she was coming from even though I didn't always agree with her decisions.  I liked that she wanted to start over in the sleepy fishing town and experience a normal life along with Pauline, whom she is a loyal friend to.  Her story isn't just about romance though. There's a lot of action; plus, Lia can hold her own with a blade.

Now regarding the two mysterious men in The Kiss of Deception…..Pearson does a fantastic job making this love triangle fresh in that readers know one of the mysterious men is an assassin and the other is the foreign prince who has tracked down Lia out of curiosity.  She doesn't know who both men, Rafe and Kaden, are and she thinks they are friends, but in fact, they just met outside of the inn and do not know each other at all.  What is brilliant about this mystery is the fact that the readers get to hear part of the story from Rafe's point of view as well as Kaden's without ever really knowing if who is the assassin and who is the prince. Pearson left readers some clues and I had fun trying to figure it out and ultimately second guessing myself.

The world that Pearson created is just as captivating and complete with a map in The Kiss of Deception.  Each chapter starts off with an excerpt from a sacred text or song from Lia's world, which only adds to Pearson's world building.

My only issue with The Kiss of Deception was the focus on romance and certain situations regarding the love triangle. Yes, I liked how Pearson chose to narrate the novel and make the men's identity a mystery, but I was a little bummed about the whole two guys hung up on one girl scenario. I wanted the focus to be a bit more on the fantasy world and Lia's situation and less on the insta-love triangle.  But nonetheless, I am a fan of The Kiss of Deception and definitely plan on continuing with the series, especially with that cliffhanger of an ending!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Stacking the Shelves and Giveaway Winner (54)


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard -  Thanks to HarperTeen and Edelweiss
A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas - Thanks to Harper Teen and Edelweiss
Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen - Thanks to HarperCollins

Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin

Congrats to Jeffrey T!  He is the winner of a copy of Cocktails for Book Lovers by Tessa Smith McGovern.  Congrats and enjoy your book! 

So what do you guys think? Have you read any of these books? Let me know! This meme is hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews.

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