Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Blog Break

Hey, guys! I am taking a few weeks off to get myself ready for my 5th Annual Summer Kickoff. There are many books that need to be reviewed, posts that need to be organized and giveaways scheduled. I'll still be actively tweeting and posting my Spring Book Photo Challenge on Instagram, so check me out there.  

When I return, be ready for some sunshine, beach reads, and some fun giveaways. See you May 1st!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Book Review: Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

Pages: 304
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: April 21, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books by Author: Moonglass, Golden
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection. After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.  Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake."
Quinn Sullivan's lost her boyfriend, Trent, in a tragic accident. It's now summer and quite some time has passed, but she is just a shell of the happy girl she used to be.  Trent donated his organs, which means five different people's have benefited from his untimely death.  She reached out to all of the organ recipients and met them all except for the recipient of Trent's heart.  It drives her nuts that this person won't reply to her letters, so she searches on the internet for who exactly received Trent's heart. After tracking him down, thanks to his sister's very public blog, she is able to determine where this guy, Colton, lives.  She is just going to see Colton from afar, but that plan gets thrown out the window when she has an accidental run-in with him at the local cafe in his neighborhood. She recognizes him from the pictures on his sister's blog and can't deny her attraction to him. Looks like he feels the same way and their accidental run-in becomes something more. Jessi Kirby's heartwarming tale about forgiveness, love, and moving on tugged on my heartstrings. Things We Know By Heart is my favorite of her novels to date. 

Quinn is struggling to live in Things We Know by Heart. She is physically fine by all means, but she isn't really living. She's not enjoying things that other teenagers would and isn't putting herself out there again after the sudden death of Trent.  She is sort of stuck on that page and can't get past it.  Determined to see who received Trent's heart, she goes on trip by herself to a neighboring beach town to sort of stalk Colton.  He enters the cafe she is in and they start talking. Quinn tries to escape without any more interaction, but the series of events that occur sort of guarantee that won't happen.  Consequently, Quinn freaks out that she has somehow crossed a line, because what if Colton didn't want to meet the person who wrote the letter to him? They hit it off, despite Quinn's super awkward behavior and she doesn't tell him the real reason why she came to his sleepy beach town.  As time goes on, the longer she waits to tell him, the harder it gets. Plus, what if she loses him? Her friendship with him has made her start living again; even her parents have noticed that Quinn is starting to enjoy life.

The characters, the romance, and the family life are all really, really well done in Things We Know by Heart. I love how Kirby makes even the secondary characters memorable. Speaking of which, I absolutely loved Quinn's family. Maybe they can adopt me? I loved her older sister and her grandmother was the best. It was nice to see a normal, not perfect, but normal portrayal of family.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Kirby's writing style in Things We Know by Heart. I thought her dialogue was relatable and and I loved how she incorporated a quote or fact about the heart before each chapter. This definitely added something special to the story.

Kirby's portrayal of a beach town was on point. I was practically dying for the ocean, sunshine, and some kayaking after I got done reading Things We Know by Heart.  It's apparent that Kirby is a beach lover and as a beach bum myself, this was one of my favorite aspects of the story.  

I enjoyed Moonglass, I loved Golden, but I ended up loving Things We Know by Heart even more.  If you are looking for a smart, moving and romantic young adult tale to read this spring, definitely check out this book. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (74)


Sorceress by Claudia Gray - Thanks to HarperCollins
Revenge, Ice Cream and Other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn - Thanks to Macmillan
Death Marked by Leah Cypess - Thanks to HarperCollins



King by Ellen Oh - Thanks to HarperCollins
Solitaire by Alica Osman - Thanks to HarperCollins
Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye - Thanks to Sourcebooks and NetGalley
The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck - Thanks to Berkley and NetGalley

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

Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Five (15)

Happy Friday! Sometimes I like to talk about what I am currently into that is not necessarily book related. Here's what I have been up to/thinking about/enjoying lately. Let me know what you think! 

1.  Outlander - Guys, the TV show comes back on this weekend. FINALLY! I thought it would never get here. Is it me or do all the good shows come back on this month? Do they not get it that we need TV shows in the dead of winter? I feel like that is when all the shows go on hiatus. Anyway, I am super pumped, but verrrry nervous about how the second half of the novel will play out. Anyone else looking forward to this show? Also, have you taken the Highlander quiz?  I got Jamie. *Swoon*

2.  Clarisonic Mia - I treated myself to this for my birthday and I have to say I love it. The hype is real. It works VERY well.  I have never had such smooth skin in my life. Highly recommended. Anyone else a fan?

3.  Mortal Instruments TV Show - Did you guys hear this show is going to be on ABC Family? I am happy with this, because I think the books will translate to a TV show much better. The recent movie was less than stellar, mostly because I sort of hated the casting for Jace. I hope they get the casting right for this TV show. Either way, I'll definitely be tuning in. What do you guys think?

4.  Bloodline - I was really lukewarm about this show in the beginning, but now I am definitely intrigued. I absolutely adore the setting of the Florida Keys and I love Eric Chandler (Coach Taylor forever!). I am about 75% through season one and plan on continuing. Has anyone else been watching this show on Netflix?

5. Happy Easter! - If you celebrate the Easter holiday, have a great time with family and friends.  

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for two awesome adult reads:  At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen and One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Enjoy your weekend,

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway: One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Pages: 368
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: July 1, 2014
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever."

Jess Thomas has had some bad luck. Her husband left her and she is now alone to support her two children. She dropped out of high school when she got pregnant and never went back to school, so supporting her family on her own is tough. Jess works two jobs and can barely get by.  She was hoping to hear from Marty, her ex-husband, but he claims to be getting his life together back home with his mom.  Their daughter, Tanzie, is a brilliant little girl.  She has been offered a scholarship to a private school, but Jess is having a hard time coming up with the rest of the money and Marty says he doesn't have it.  To top it off, Tanzie has been invited to a math competition in Scotland. The money she could win from it would help pay for the private school, but how on earth can they get there? They don't own a reliable car and Scotland isn't exactly around the corner.  Jess also worries about her stepson, Nicky, who is a little different. The boys in the neighborhood bully him and one day he returns home beaten up pretty badly. There's a lot on her plate. One of her cleaning clients, Ed Nicholls, gets pretty drunk at the pub she works at. Jess makes sure he gets home safely and in turn, he offers to drive her, her kids and her dog to Scotland for the math competition.  What ensues will make you laugh out loud, cry and frustrate you to no end.  One thing is for sure: Jojo Moyes knows how to tell a tale; I thoroughly enjoyed One Plus One.

How could you not root for Jess in One Plus One? She works two jobs; plus, she takes care of her daughter and her stepson without any financial support from her husband. She busts her butt to give them a good life, but sometimes it's hard to remain optimistic when faced with the problems they have. For example, Tanzie definitely would benefit from private school, but how can Jess afford it? Marty surely won't help and she can't afford private school on a cleaner's salary. Nicky seems depressed and can't really find his niche. The local boys pick on him and of course, this would worry any mother. However, things change for her when she embarks on the road trip to Scotland with wealthy Ed Nicholls.

Ed Nicholls is a complex character in One Plus One. At first I didn't really like him, but once we learned more about him, I forgave him for some of his misteps. He finds himself in serious trouble at work (insider trading!) and his career is ready to go down the train. He is escaping to his beach house, which is cleaned by Jess, and encounters her at the local pub. He is smashed and thankfully, she helps him get home. Knowing she helped him out, he offers to help her out by taking them to the math competition; however, I don't think he knows what is in store for him with this ride. They get lost, there's food poisioning, deadly dog farts, a carsick child, and even more.  

The unlikely romance that ensues between Ed and Jess was pretty easy to predict, but I liked it. I thought it worked and I liked the whole opposites attract vibe.  Of course, their romance isn't easy though; there are many uphill battles in store in One Plus One.

This is my first Jojo Moyes novel and I was impressed. I can't wait to read more of her work. She knows how to write  relatable characters and stories that will tug on your heartstrings. I plan on checking out more of her books in the future. Also, this book would be great to read with a book club. If interested, check out the book club kit, which includes recipes, a conversation with Jojo Moyes and even a playlist.  

Thanks to Penguin, I am hosting a giveaway for a paperback copy of One Plus One. The paperback edition just came out March 31st and it would fit perfectly in your beach bag this summer.  Please refer to my giveaway rules. The deadline is April 13th and this giveaway is open to US readers only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Next Together

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

 The Next Together by Lauren James
Pub. Date: September 3, 2015

Goodreads says, "How many times can you lose the person you love?  A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about reincarnation and the timelessness of first love from a talented young writer.  Teenagers Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.  But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? Maybe the next together will be different... In 1745, during the siege of Carlisle, in 1854 on the way to the Crimea, in 2019 and 2039 as first scientists and then students uncovering and rediscovering a dangerous plot, and in multiple timescales between, they are thrown together, with no memory of having met one another before, only an irresistible instinct that they must be with one another against all odds – even while the epic events unfolding all around seem sure to tear them apart."
Yes to all of this! And how gorgeous is that cover? I think it's one of my favorites of the year. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March Confessions

This has been a good reading month for me, mostly because it still has been pretty darn cold here in PA. I don't think spring got the memo that it should be here. But I have already started reading books for my Summer Kickoff, so it's summer in my mind regardless of what the temperatures outside are. Pina Colada, anyone? 

1.  See Me by Wendy Higgins - 3.5 out of 5 stars
2.  Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill - 3.5 out of 5 stars
3.  A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe - 4 out of 5 stars
4.  At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen - 4 out of 5 stars
5.  First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan - 3.5 out of 5 stars
6.  Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby - 4.5 out of 5 stars (Review to come)
7.  One Plus One by Jojo Moyes - 4 out of 5 stars (Review to come)
8.  99 Days by Kate Cotugno - 3.5 out of 5 stars (Review to come)
9.  Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen - 4 out of 5 stars  (Review to come)

Did Not Finish:
Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark - For my reasons why, click here.

1. Favorite Book: Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby - Man, Jessi Kirby is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary authors...right up there with Sarah Dessen. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and LOVED the setting.

2.  Biggest Surprise: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen - I am used to Sarah Dessen writing certain kind of summertime novels for the most part (except Dreamland) and Saint Anything wasn't like that at all. It felt darker, more mature, but still had some of that signature Dessen style. There were so many great quotes in this book and to be honest, this story will stay with me longer than some of her other ones. She can do no wrong.

3.  Biggest Disappointment: 99 Days by Kate Cotugno - I LOVED aspects of this book, but then the protagonist kept making the same mistakes over and over again. I got frustrated. Sort of like when I yell at the girl in the scary movie because she's running around the house making desperate moves and runs right into the room with the killer in it. That's how I felt about this story.

4.  Favorite Post/Most Popular: Top Ten Books for Readers Who Like Sarah Dessen was by far my most popular post.

5.  Favorite Part of March: Even though I was sick on my birthday, I loved spending extra time with my family. Who doesn't love the healing powers of cake? :)

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