Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: Landline

Title Landline

Author Rainbow Rowell

Release Date July 8, 2014

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Based solely on the blurb, I'm not sure I would have picked this book up if it had been written by anyone else. It's safe to say, though, that I'm down to read anything that Rainbow Rowell writes. Keeping up with the current trend, Landline was a wonderful book and I've yet to read anything disappointing by Rainbow.

Like everything else I've read by Rainbow, Landline was nearly impossible to put down. Forget everything else, I just want to sit and read for hours on end. That's pretty much what I did (much to my husband's irritation... hey, he can feed himself! I've seen him do it.) until I finished the book. The story flows effortlessly and before you know it, you're halfway through the book with no signs of stopping.

Not only does Rainbow write realistic characters (I love her dialogue most of all), but she writes an authentic love. Sometimes, in mature/longer relationships, we need to be reminded that we love our significant other. We need to be reminded of why we love them. It's not as if that love has disappeared or is gone forever. It's just that love has been buried by time and by life. Those things, no matter how much you love your significant other, affect your relationship. Landline is Georgie's story of finding her way back to her husband. No, it's not about finding that new passionate love. It's about rekindling that love with her husband. It's about saving her marriage.

I was thoroughly impressed with this book. It was even better than I imagined it to be.


5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: Olivia

Title Olivia

Series Choisie, book 2

Author Lori L. Otto

Release Date June 17, 2014

When devastating news brings an abrupt end to a romantic rendezvous, Livvy Holland struggles to accept the death of one of her closest mentors. Livvy’s artwork has always been an expression of her emotions, and avoiding the pain she feels from her recent loss makes painting seem impossible. Her inspiration gone, she devotes her attention to the future she’s planning with Jon Scott.

Blissfully happy in her own denial, all of Livvy’s free time has been given to the boy she’s always loved. Facing grown up decisions, she finds it hard to live up to her parents’ expectations of her as a daughter and an artist. Under her father’s constant scrutiny and persistent surveillance from curious paparazzi, Livvy finds it difficult to maintain the adult relationship she’s begun with Jon.

The changes in Livvy are evident to those closest to her, and a few that were once her allies begin to interfere with her personal life. This newfound attention – along with distractions that take Jon’s attention elsewhere – cause Livvy to question all the choices she’s made: what college she’ll attend, what man she should be with, and what she thought was her life’s purpose.

Livvy faces her greatest challenge when Jon’s unanticipated plans derail her own. Overwhelmed, confused, and longing to satisfy her own wants and needs, Livvy must endure more heartache before finding herself.

Lori Otto does something special. She creates a book that I can enjoy even I don't particularly like the main characters.

I probably shouldn't fault Livvy like I do. She's a teenage girl that's in love for the very first time. Of course her judgement isn't exactly sound. Of course she's going to the extreme with her love and absolute devotion to Jon. When I think about it in the mind frame of a teenage girl in love for the very first time (I was there once!), I understand. I can understand her reasonings and her actions. However, as someone that's more mature (god, I feel old when I say this...), she's acting irrational. Lori Otto writes Livvy's character so incredibly realistically that it drives me nuts! I mean this as a complete compliment. As far as Jon goes, I enjoyed her much more this time around. I feel like he's growing and changing into a man. Yes, he's still young and doesn't exactly express himself in the greatest ways, but he's growing up. I wish Livvy would do the same (the last chapter does show some growth, but I'm hoping for even more in future books).

Overall, I'm still greatly enjoying the Choisie series. Yeah, I can be frustrated with the characters for the majority of the book, but it's still a great story. The writing is absolutely fantastic and I love reading anything from Lori. I can't wait for the next book.


4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book Review: Thrive

Title Thrive

Series Addicted, book 2.5

Author Krista & Becca Ritchie

Release Date July 18, 2014

Two years will change them forever.

When rumors spread like wildfire—like having three-ways with her boyfriend’s rock climbing brother—Lily Calloway spirals into a dark place. Her bedroom. Loren Hale is more confident and determined to keep their sex life private, even from their friends, and he helps Lily in the only way he knows how. But how much love is too much?

Their lives are filmed, watched, and criticized. And through it all, Lily and Loren have to face enemies they never thought they’d see, demons they don’t know if they should bury, and setbacks they didn’t think they’d meet. Not this soon.

And one rumor could be too much for them to handle. It will test their greatest limitations, and if they don’t hold onto each other, someone is going to drown.

While this book is 2.5 in the series, it is *not* a novella. It is a full-length novel (~425 pages). It is absolutely vital to Lily and Lo's storyline in the Addicted series. Do not skip this book! The recommended reading order (and my reviews) for the entire series is as follows:

  • Addicted to You, book 1
  • Ricochet, book 1.5
  • Addicted for Now, book 2
  • Kiss the Sky, Calloway Sisters spinoff book 1
  • Hothouse Flower, Calloway Sisters spinoff book 2
  • Thrive, book 2.5
  • Addicted After All, book 3 (coming soon)
  • Fuel the Fire, Calloway Sisters spin-off, stand alone 3 (coming soon)
  • Long Way Down, Calloway Sisters spin-off, stand alone 4 (coming soon)

There is no doubt in my mind that the Addicted series is my absolute favorite New Adult series. It has everything a fan of the genre could possibly want. There's sweet and adorable romance. There are some sexy scenes. There are flawed, but loveable characters. There's great storyline. I love this series! And, surprisingly, it just gets better and better with each new book.

Although I enjoy all of the couples, Lily and Loren have a special place in my heart. Maybe it's because the series started with them, who knows? The reasoning isn't important. Anyway, it was great to get back to Lily and Lo's story. I've loved watching them grow and change throughout the series. Their love for one another is special and absolutely adorable. Seeing them struggle through life with each other makes those tender, loving moments mean even more. It's wonderful. There's so much I could talk about with this book/series, but I always try to keep my reviews spoiler free.

I highly recommend this entire series for fans of New Adult books (or those that enjoy romance). It's filled with everything that makes me love this genre. Krista and Becca Ritchie know how to write New Adult perfectly. I couldn't ask for a better series if I tried.


5 out of 5 stars

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review: Contessa

Title Contessa

Series Choisie, book 1

Author Lori L. Otto

Release Date December 20, 2013

When she was four, a generous couple welcomed orphan Olivia Sophia into their lives. As she grew up, her parents made good decisions for her, raising “Livvy” to be an intelligent and creative young girl. Now sixteen, three people influence many of her choices: her first love, her second father, and a third man who speaks to her through his artwork.

Livvy’s father is practical and steadfast; even-tempered and quietly observant. She’s an artist who acts on her emotions and thrives on attention. Unhappy with their differences– and misunderstanding her father’s methods– Livvy chooses to focus on the similarities she shares with an enigmatic painter from her mother’s past. Her overactive imagination leads her down an obsessive path– one that only stands to hurt everyone around her.

The distraction of a new boyfriend has the potential to end her search and reunite her family, but his involvement in her life could be just as devastating, taking Livvy away from her father for good.

This is the first book in the Emi Lost & Found spin-off series, Choisie. You can read this series without reading the Emi Lost & Found series, but I don't recommend it. The Emi Lost & Found series provides history and sets the backdrop for this series. Be aware that this review may contain spoilers from the previous series, but they will not be marked.

Overall, my reaction to Contessa was a positive one. However, there were some aspects that I just didn't like. Let's touch on the things I did enjoy.

One, some of the characters (yes, only some of them). After my mixed feelings towards Jack after Never Look Back, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed him in this book. I loved him as a father. And my heart absolutely ached for him a few times throughout this book. Speaking of Jack, we also see Emi again in this series. I don't feel like she played as big of a role in this book as previous books, but that's okay with me. This is the story of her daughter (and less so her husband). Two, the writing is fantastic. Lori is one of my new favorite authors. I love her style of writing and story telling. She's able to control my emotions effortlessly. I love it.

Now, here's what I didn't like... some of the characters were just less than amazing. Luckily, I was able to enjoy this book whenever when some of the main characters just irritated me to no end. Livvy was nearly impossible to enjoy, if I'm being completely honest. She was a rude, bratty, and spoiled child. The way she treats her father throughout the majority of the book just infuriated me. By the end, my anger had subsided into just indifference. I don't really like Livvy, but I no longer wanted to strangle her. I'm hoping that throughout the series, I will grow to like her. The other person that I didn't like as much as I hope was Jon. Well, that's not exactly true. I had mixed feelings towards him. Sometimes I liked him. He was a sweet guy with very good intentions. Sometimes, though, I didn't understand him at all. He was planning a future with Livvy when they'd only been together a few months! All of that aside, Jon was probably more of a positive than a negative now that I think about it.

Even though I had such issues with Livvy, I did enjoy Contessa and I will certainly read the next book in the series.


4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review: Dollbaby

Title Dollbaby

Author Laura Lane McNeal

Release Date July 3, 2014

When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.

For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.

For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.

By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby is a novel readers will take to their hearts.

There's so many things that I absolutely love about Dollbaby. It's set in the South. Being from the South, I always love reading about the history and culture in fiction books.  The Southern-isms (like "bless your heart" is more insulting than complimentary) are wonderfully done in this book. It's about learning family secrets. Southern families (and I'm sure this isn't just a Southern thing, but that's where my experience lies), it seems, are full of crazy secrets. Whether it's discovering your own family secrets or someone else's, it's always interesting. It's a coming of age story. Taking place over eight years, we see growth mostly in Ibby, but there's change in the entire cast of characters. Speaking of which, it's got such delightful, realistic characters. I loved them all.

The only thing that I was confused about during my time reading this book was why it was named as such. Surely a book about Ibby shouldn't be named Dollbaby. By the end of the book, though, it makes perfect sense. And I absolutely loved it.

While I enjoyed the entire book, the last few chapters are really what made me fall in love with it. Dollbaby is a great story. It's touching and just all around wonderful. I highly recommend this one.


5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Review: Never Look Back

Title Never Look Back

Series Emi Lost and Found, book 3

Author Lori. L. Otto

Release Date April 25, 2011

To say Emi Hennigan’s life over the past two years has had its share of peaks and valleys is an understatement – and her friends and family would agree. With the unanticipated romance with her best friend, and the unforeseen friendship with her brother’s acquaintance, Emi sees a new future unfolding right before her pale green eyes. Her optimism returning, she is gaining more confidence in her emotions, and she welcomes her newfound happiness.

Jack Holland is elated that Emi has allowed him into her life. For him, it was love at first sight when they met in college, and after years of keeping his feelings in check at the advice of his best friend, he is finally free to express to Emi exactly how she affects him. Always practical and level-headed, the growing romance inspires Jack to let down his guard.

His patience rewarded, everything appears to be falling into place until Emi delivers shocking news to Jack that will force him to reevaluate his priorities. Knowing what he’s always wanted in life, he has to decide what he’s willing to sacrifice to be with the woman he loves – even if he’s not always certain his feelings are returned.

In the conclusion to Emi Lost & Found, Jack guides Emi through a year of self-discovery, and teaches her that faith in true love – and in soul mates – can yield happiness from even the darkest of places.

Please note, this review contains spoilers. DO NOT read this review unless you want the series (not just this book) spoiled or you’ve already read it! You’ve been warned.

Emi Lost and Found was an absolutely beautiful series and I definitely recommend it to everyone.


4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: Time Stands Still

Title Time Stands Still

Series Emi Lost and Found, book 2

Author Lori L. Otto

Release Date April 22, 2011

Emi Hennigan could never have predicted her life would be like this. After wasting more than ten years being “just a friend” to her true love, Nate Wilson, Emi feels more than a little regret. Her future was set, though. Nate loved her as much as she loved him, and they were moving forward with a romance that took them both by surprise. They already knew their bad habits, quirks and the subtle nuances of expressions, but the love was all-encompassing and new to them both.

No man could compete, Emi thought, until one night – one evening, one party, one journey, one second alters her course completely.

That night, her brother’s confident best friend, Jack Holland, comes back into her life with a mission: to spend more time with Emi to prove he is the right man for her. A romance with him is the furthest thing from Emi’s mind, though, staying loyal and steadfast to a trusted man that she will always love.

In a year’s time, though, Emi must learn to make changes she’d never before considered after being impacted by unexpected events. While her fragile spirit takes time to heal, Jack slowly finds a comfortable place in her life. Only time will tell if it’s right for Emi – and enough for him.

Please note, this review contains spoilers. DO NOT read this review unless you want the series (not just this book) spoiled or you've already read it! You've been warned.


5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Review: Lost and Found

Title Lost and Found

Series Emi Lost and Found, book 1

Author Lori L. Otto

Release Date March 24, 2011

Independent and sensitive, idealistic and hopeful, Emi Hennigan lives her life with optimism and an open mind. Between sharing a tiny Manhattan apartment with her fun-loving roommate and spending most of her free time with her heart-breaker friend, Emi’s seen enough failed relationships to know what to avoid in her quest to find her true love. Not only that, but a single moment from her past lingers in her mind, setting high expectations for every man she dates.

Emi’s best friend, artist and hopeless romantic Nate Wilson, has been her closest companion all of their adult lives. After swearing off love with Emi in a silly high school pact, Nate has been seeing other women in hopes of finding one that evokes stronger feelings than the ones he’s been harboring for Emi since he was a teen. Over the span of a year, boundaries are crossed, feelings are confessed, and their unique friendship begins to blossom into something more.

Through Nate’s eyes, an atypical romance unfolds, disrupting the comfortable safe haven their friendship has provided. With a promising future ahead of them both, fate intervenes to bring two soul mates together.

Now that I've read the first book, I think it was a perfect idea to read the prequel (which is free, by the way!) first. In fact, if you're thinking about starting this series, I have a few suggestions. One, stay away from all reviews that have spoilers (I didn't mark any spoilers in this review because I'm pretty sure I don't touch on anything that's not included already in the blurb)! This should be a given, but I feel like it's especially important for this series! Big things happen in this book and I certainly don't want them to be ruined for you. Two, don't read the blurbs for the other books beforehand! You know what, actually stay away from the blurbs period until you're completely done with this series. I made, what I consider, a mistake by reading the blurb for the second book whenever I finished this one and it kind of spoiled something for me. Third, read the prequel before the first book. I know it can be read before or after, but I think it fits best before. It not only gives you some history to Emi and Nate, but it sheds some light on why they do the things they do in this book. Okay, those are my three suggestions for starting this series. Onward to the review!

Lost and Found is told from Nate's point of view. Through his eyes, we see just how special Emi is to him. He struggles with his feelings and his doubt that he could ever be worthy of her. Throughout the book, he makes some rather poor choices, but everything he does brings him closer to the woman he loves. (It's funny how life works out.) I fell in love with Nate. He's a wonderful, loving, and romantic guy... even with all of his flaws.

As for Emi, the woman of his dreams, I had very mixed feelings towards her through the majority of the book. I was frustrated, annoyed, sad, and even understanding. I can't count the number of times I wanted to shake her and tell her to wake up (I'll be honest, there were a few times I wanted to do this with Nate as well). However, by the end of the book, I had fallen in love with her, too. I believe she grew up and became more confident and secure with her friendship turned relationship with Nate.

Lost and Found ends on a giant cliffhanger. It's pretty clear what has happened, though. I hardly knew that one single word could crush all the hope that I had built up for two people the way the last word of this book did. I am both eager and worried to start the next book. For everyone else, start the prequel and enjoy the series that is Emi Lost and Found.


5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

Title Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

Author Matthew Dicks

Release Date August 21, 2012

Budo is Max's imaginary friend. But though only Max can see him, he is real. He and the other imaginary friends watch over their children until the day comes that the child stops imagining them. And then they're gone. Budo has lasted a lot longer than most imaginary friends - four years - because Max needs him more. His parents argue about sending him to a special school. But Max is perfectly happy if everything is just kept the way it is, and nothing out of the ordinary happens. Unfortunately, something out of the ordinary is going to happen - and then he'll need Budo more than ever...

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend has been on my to-read list for over a year and a half. It likely would still be on my to-read list if my mother hadn't recently read the book and told me how great it was. Yeah, I had seen the good reviews for it on Goodreads, but it's a little different coming from my mom. So in the middle of yesterday's blackout (25 hours without power is no fun, by the way), I picked it up and began reading. The only thing I could think after I started was that I wished I would have read it sooner.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is an incredible book. It was tender and heartbreaking in a way that I couldn't have anticipated. I cried. It was just so sweet and touching that I couldn't help it. It wasn't all sad, though. There were funny moments to balance out the sadness.

Certainly unique, the book is told through the eyes of Max's imaginary friend. I was surprised at just how real Budo was and how much I enjoyed seeing life as Budo does. It's unlike anything else I've read before and I'm not sure that anyone else could possibly come close to writing a story from an imaginary friend's POV like this one.

Overall, I just loved this book. I recommend it to anyone searching for a touching story or something a little different than you'd normally read. Don't be like me and allow the imaginary friend POV to keep you from reading a book for months on end.


5 out of 5 stars