Friday, July 29, 2016

Book Review: Where One Goes

Title Where One Goes
Author B. N. Toler
Release Date March 18, 2015

What happens when the very thing ruining your life ends up saving it?

I was never one to believe in spirits—until six years ago, when a bone-chilling accident changed my life... forever.

My name is Charlotte, but most people call me Char... and I have a special gift.

I talk to the dead.

Make no mistake, I can’t summon them. I’m only able to see and speak to the spirits that linger when they’re unable to crossover. They’re somehow weighted to the world with unfinished affairs. And for the last six years, I've relentlessly used my gift to help their lost souls.

But it’s come at a price. My life is dark. Feeling despondent, I've begun to give up. And in helping the dead, I've realized I haven’t allowed myself to live. With no money, no place to go, and most importantly... no hope, I've decided there is only one option—to end it all.

But fate is a funny thing. One minute, I’m about to leap to my death, and the next, I’m saved by Ike McDermott. The strong, striking soldier stopped me from putting an end to my despair. He’s the kind of man that smiles and brightens an entire room.

Sweet and gentle.

He is my savior.

And he’s dead.

We've made an agreement. He’ll help me find a place to stay and a new job if I’ll help him with his unfinished business so that he may crossover.

Ike’s unfinished matter involves his twin brother, George. George has been falling apart since Ike’s death and Ike has not been able to compel himself to crossover in peace until he knows George will be okay.

When I agreed to help, little did I know that I’d fall in love with the charming folks of Bath County, and... Ike and George McDermott.

Now, as both brothers own equal parts of my heart, I am faced with a cruel and unfair predicament. In saving George, I must let go of Ike.

But how does one let go of half of their heart?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24323918-where-one-goes
Review

I was a little hesitant to read Where One Goes. There's two reasons for that. One, talking to the dead? I feel like this can either be done really well and feel totally believable or it can be awful and feel like a complete joke. I just sit on the fence with most paranormal books. They're either fantastic and I have no problem suspending any disbelief I may have or they're just terrible and too outlandish for me to enjoy. There's no grey area for me in that regard. The second reason, and perhaps the one that gave me the most pause, a love triangle involving twin brothers? This definitely had me giving this book the squinty eyes. However, I knew this wouldn't be a traditional love triangle as one brother is dead. There's no possible way for Charlotte to be with him. None. Knowing this, I certainly wanted to find out how things would end up.

Hesitation aside, I saw the numerous good reviews this book had. I recently finished and loved Desperately Seeking Epic by the same author. Plus, the book was on sale when I was thinking about reading it.

Every single good review this book has was well earned. This book is flat out amazing.

I was hooked from the very beginning. The story, even the paranormal aspects, felt believable and real. It didn't feel outlandish or over the top in the least bit. I was extremely impressed early on with how easily I was invested in the story.

And let me tell you about this story! Wow. This was raw and emotional in a way that I really didn't expect. It was bittersweet in such a heartbreaking way that I can't even begin to explain. I loved it. Where One Goes was so much better than I could have ever anticipated.

This is, without any doubts, one of my top books of 2016. If you're looking for a romance, and don't mind a tearjerker, Where One Goes will not disappoint.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#16)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title Bad Boy
Author Elliot Finley Wake
Release Date December 6, 2016

Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23430487-bad-boy

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Share your WoW in the comments below and I'll be sure to stop by.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Book Review: Butterfly Dreams

Title Butterfly Dreams
Author A. Meredith Walters
Release Date November 24, 2015

In a powerful romance hailed as “heartbreaking, real, and breathtakingly beautiful” by Stacey Lynn, New York Times bestselling author A. Meredith Walters tells the story of a troubled young woman and the unforgettable guy who teaches her to live—and love—to the fullest.

She’s waiting to die. . . . Corin Thompson is paralyzed by her obsession with mortality. Having lost both of her parents, she is terrified by the idea that she too will die young, and she loses control at any sign of illness. But when Corin connects with someone who has survived a very real brush with death, she begins to see the world in a whole new way.

He’s learning to live. . . . As Corin struggles under the weight of her neuroses, Beckett Kingsley is attempting to rebuild a life that feels all too temporary. With the ever-present threat of heart failure never far from his mind, he just wants to make the most of whatever time he has left. And that means pursuing the girl he never expected to find.

Together, Corin and Beckett finally learn to let go of their fears and take solace in everyday pleasures. Who knows what the future holds? After all, nothing lasts forever—the only promise they have is right now.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24481467-butterfly-dreams
Review

I've read a few books by A. Meredith Walters and I've enjoyed each of them. There's something about her writing style that really draws me into the story. Butterfly Dreams was enjoyable, but didn't feel as strong as the other books by her that I've read.

For books like this, I really need that emotional connection to the characters to thoroughly enjoy the book. While there is a connection there, it doesn't seem very strong. It sort of comes and goes throughout the book. I certainly felt a strong connection with Beckett and I really enjoyed him as a character. He certainly saved this book. I definitely enjoyed Corin as a character as well, but I didn't connect as strongly with her as I would have liked.

Secondly, I wanted more at the end. The way the book ended seemed way too rushed. A slightly more fleshed out ending would have easily bumped the book up to a solid 4.5 stars for me.

Overall, Butterfly Dreams was a good book, but it wasn't the best book by A. Meredith Walters that I've read. It was a slight let down, but I know many people will absolutely love this book.

Rating

3.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (#9)


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because everyone loves a good list, don't they? We love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Ten Facts About Me

(bookish or just general about you facts or ten facts about you as a blogger...whatever you want)

  1. I was born and raised in Georgia. I lived there until I was (almost) 24 years old. In 2012, I moved to Michigan after marrying my husband.
  2. I have two dogs that I consider my children. One is a six year old chihuahua (officially) named Buddy. His nicknames include Bud, Tiny One, the Ornery Pup, etc. The other is a year old blue heeler named Silas. His nicknames include Fat One, Goose, Moose, Moo Goo, etc. In other words, we call our dogs pretty much everything except their names.
  3. When I was in kindergarten, I cried because I couldn't read. It took me a normal amount of time to learn to read, but at that age it felt like forever! All I wanted to do was read and it frustrated me to the point of tears when I didn't pick it up instantly. Once I learned to read, that was all I ever wanted to do.
  4. Other than reading, I love playing video games. The main game I play is World of Warcraft. I also enjoy playing Overwatch, Diablo III, and the occasional console game like Destiny.
  5. The best concert that I've ever been to was an Eminem/Rhianna concert in Detroit. Eminem puts on an amazing show and I hope to see him in concert again.
  6. I suck at social media. I mostly just browse Twitter and Facebook without commenting or posting myself. I feel like I'm too awkward for the internet.
  7. Since finishing Some Kind of Perfect, I feel like I've been in a reading slump (and thus the lack of blog posts). I've read a couple of decent books since then, but I feel like the majority of books I've read lately have been disappointing.
  8. I love reality TV! I don't care if it's scripted. I don't care that it's trashy TV. I love it and I'm not ashamed. Big Brother, Catfish, Teen Mom, all of it.... I just can't get enough.
  9. I love writing. I'm not very good at it, but I love doing it. Journaling, blogging, poetry, it doesn't matter. Writing is fantastic.
  10. I've never read anything by Stephen King, but I really want to. I don't know why I've always put off reading his books, but I'm hoping to change that eventually.
Share your Top Ten Tuesday in the comments below and I'll be sure to drop by!

    Tuesday, July 5, 2016

    Spotlight/Giveaway: Defending Taylor

    Title Defending Taylor
    Author Miranda Kenneally
    Release Date July 5, 2016
    Publisher Sourcebooks Fire
    ISBN 9781492630081

    There are no mistakes in love.

    Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

    Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22846823-defending-taylor

    An Excerpt


    I now understand culture shock: it’s me experiencing Hundred Oaks High for the first time.
    A lot of kids go here. Five hundred? A thousand? There are so many I can’t tell. At St. Andrew’s, there were only forty kids in my entire class. We lived on a calm, sprawling, green campus. Walking down the halls of Hundred Oaks feels like last-­minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall.
    Two guys wearing football jerseys are throwing a ball back and forth. It whizzes by my ear. A suspender-­clad male teacher is hanging a poster for the science fair, while a couple is making out against the wall next to the fire alarm. If they move another inch, they’ll set off the sprinklers. At St. Andrew’s, kissing in the hall was an über no-­no. We snuck under the staircase or went out into the woods. Ben and I did that all the time.
    Thinking of him makes me stop moving. I shut my eyes. Dating Ben was stupid. Going into the woods with him was stupid. Thinking about what happened makes me so mad, I want to rip that newly hung science fair poster off the wall and tear it apart.
    A boy shoves past me, slamming my arm with his backpack. That’s what I get for loitering in the middle of the hallway with my eyes closed. He looks me up and down. “You coming to Rutledge Falls this afternoon?”
    “What?”
    “Paul Simmons challenged Nolan Chase to a fight. Rutledge Falls. Three o’clock. Don’t tell the cops.”
    A fight? Where the hell am I? Westeros?
    A girl bumps into my side. “Watch it!” Flashing me a dirty look, she disappears into a classroom with a group of friends, chattering away.
    Seeing those girls together reminds me of my best friends, Steph and Madison. Right now, they’re probably gossiping before trig starts. I miss Steph’s cool British accent and Madison’s cheerful laugh.
    I take a deep, rattled breath. And then another. I feel trapped, like the time I got locked in my grandpa’s garage and no one found me for an hour and I banged on the windows until my fists turned purple from bruises.
    I can’t believe I had to leave my school. My home.
    All because I made one stupid decision.
    I check my schedule. My first class is calculus 1, the most advanced math course Hundred Oaks offers. Just a week ago, I was taking an advanced calculus quiz at the University of the South. St. Andrew’s is one of the best prep schools in the country, and they offer seniors the opportunity to take courses at the university, which is up the road. Even though I was still in high school, the professors treated me just like a college kid. I was only in the course for two weeks, but still. It was insanely difficult. The truth is, unlike everybody else in my family, I hate math. I have to work at it harder than anything else in my life.
    But if I didn’t take college calc, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t get into an Ivy League school. I need to go to a top-tier school because that’s what people in my family do. My father attended Yale, and my sister Jenna is there now. According to Dad, my brother Oliver—­Jenna’s twin—­is a traitor for going to Princeton, but I think Dad respects him for having the balls to make his own decision.
    Me?
    When Dad called me into his home office last night, he barely looked at me as he pored over my new schedule. The silence was killing me.
    “I don’t know how Yale will still consider me if I’m not taking all AP courses,” I said. “Hundred Oaks only offers AP chemistry.”
    Dad sighed, took off his glasses, and set down my schedule. “I’m incredibly disappointed in you, Taylor.”
    I looked him straight in the eyes. His quiet restraint worried me. I’d never seen him so upset.
    But I was upset too. He rarely had time to call me when I was away at school, but he could spare a few minutes to comment on my one screwup? After how hard I’ve always worked?
    Over the years, I’ve done hours of homework every night. I had a 4.2 GPA at St. Andrew’s. A 1520 SAT score. I was on track to be valedictorian. I was captain of the soccer team and on the debate team. I did everything I could to show Yale that I worked hard. That I am a unique individual. Because that’s what Yale wants.
    But my one misstep has muddied my glowing record.
    Dad ended our conversation with a death knell.
    “Tee, I gave you all the tools you needed to succeed,” he said. “I’ve paid for your private school education since first grade, and you squandered it by getting kicked out.”
    “I’m sorry,” I said, my face burning. “I’m going to keep working hard at Hundred Oaks though.”
    “You’re damn right you will.”
    My father had me so flustered, I wasn’t thinking straight when I said, “Maybe Yale will still take me because of who I am.”
    “You mean because of who I am.” Dad rubbed his eyes. “I’ve always taught you kids the importance of integrity, and the minute you got into trouble, instead of owning it, you called me to bail you out. And now you’re doing it again. Using my name to try to get ahead.”
    I hung my head. “I’m sorry, Dad.”
    “I love you more than anything, but you have to take responsibility for what you did. You’ll have to figure college out on your own.”
    “What does that mean?” I asked slowly.
    “It means I’m not lifting a finger. I won’t be calling the alumni association or the school president to put in a good word for you.”
    “But didn’t you do that for Jenna and Oliver?” I blurted.
    He put his glasses back on. “You need to own up, Tee.”
    So here I am, glancing around the unfamiliar halls of Hundred Oaks. The school is neat and orderly, but it doesn’t look completely clean, like no matter how hard you scrub, it still looks old. At least it’s not juvie.
    I step into my math class, which is already filled with kids. I choose an empty seat at a wobbly wooden desk and stare out the window at the sunny, seventy-­degree September day. I bet at St. Andrew’s, my world politics teacher is telling my friends, “Gather your books. It’s a beautiful day out. Let’s have class in one of the gardens.”
    I check out the problem set on the whiteboard. I could do this level of math years ago…
    My former guidance counselor told me that colleges look for trends in our GPA and activities over four years of high school. So that means when colleges see my application, they will see:
    I’m taking easier classes;
    I’m no longer doing debate;
    I’ve lost my soccer captainship this year; and
    I was expelled.
    I have never simply given up when calculus got a lot tougher or an opponent ran faster than me on the soccer field. So I refuse to believe my entire future is over because of one mistake.
    I just need to figure out how to move forward.

    Buy Links

    (The Defending Taylor e-book includes an exclusive bonus story with Jordan and Henry from Catching Jordan!)

    Praise for Defending Taylor

    “I can’t quite put my finger on what is so enthralling about Kenneally’s newest novel, but it totally sucked me in. I loved that Kenneally didn’t go with an easy, traditional happy-go-lucky ending. I also enjoyed the flawed nature of the characters, which made them feel more relatable. This is a great summer read and my favorite novel by Kenneally so far!” –RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

    About the Author

    Growing up in Tennessee, MIRANDA KENNEALLY dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband. Visit mirandakenneally.com.

    Links

    Website
    Instagram
    Twitter




    Giveaway

    Open to US & Canada Residents Only

    Sunday, July 3, 2016

    Spotlight/Giveaway: Twisted

    Title Twisted
    Author Hannah Jayne
    Release Date July 5, 2016
    Publishers Sourcebooks Fire
    ISBN 9781492605492

    Guilty until proven innocent…

    Bex has always been her daddy’s little girl. After her mother left, it was just the two of them. Sure he spoiled her with clothes and jewelry, but what father doesn’t dote on his daughter?

    Except Bex’s dad is alleged to be a notorious serial killer. Dubbed “The Wife Collector” by the press, her father disappeared before he could stand trial. And Bex was left to deal with the taunts and rumors. Foster care is her one chance at starting over, starting fresh.

    But Bex's old life isn't ready to let her go. When bodies start turning up in her new hometown, the police want to use her as bait to bring her father in for questioning. Is this Bex’s one chance to reunite with her father and prove his innocence—or is she setting herself up to be a serial killer’s next victim?
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28218622-twisted

    An Excerpt


    “Miss?”

    Bex Andrews surged forward, eyes pulled open wider than she ever thought they could be, heart hammering like a fire bell.

    “I’m so sorry,” the soothing voice continued. “I didn’t mean to startle you. We’re going to be landing in a few minutes, and I need you to put your tray table up.”

    “Oh.” Bex looked at her hands, her knuckles white as she gripped the tray table in front of her, then back to the flight attendant. She felt the familiar heat of embarrassment singe across her cheeks. “Sure. I’m sorry.”

    The flight attendant straightened. “Thank you.” Her smile was as bright as a Crest commercial and her hair swirled behind her as she continued up the aisle, reminding the other passengers that they were landing soon.

    Bex’s heart didn’t stop its relentless thump. “Excuse me,” she said, leaning forward in her seat. The flight attendant turned. “Mmm-hmm?”

    “Do I have time to use the restroom?”

    “Quickly.”

    Bex made her way down the narrow aisle, wobbling with the rocking of the plane. She glanced away as people looked up at her, letting out her breath only when she escaped into the tiny lavatory and slid the little lever to Occupied. Under the glaring, yellow light, Beth Anne Reimer hardly recognized herself.

    Her once white-blond, shoulder-length hair was blunt cut to her ears, the curls gone so that her new sandy-brown hair and pixie cut framed her face, hugging her cheekbones and falling against her darkened eyebrows. Her long bangs hung into her hazel eyes, and several coats of mascara made her short lashes stand out. She was wearing an outfit that made her look like every other teenager in the free world: tight jeans faded at the knees and fraying at the ankles, flip-flops, and a white zip-up hoodie with a surfer print. Instinctively, she pulled the hood over her head, and the fabric shaded her face and instantly darkened her cheekbones. Her bright eyes were suddenly small and menacing. She pushed the hood back. She was a new person, at the other side of her home state and about to start a new life. No way was she going to fade into her hoodie and let people think she was a serial killer just because her father was.

    Not anymore.

    That was Beth Anne Reimer. And she was Bex Andrews now.

    ***

    Bex stared out the car’s passenger-side window as the scenery zoomed by. She had never been to Kill Devil Hills, though she had seen postcards and TV shows set here, but what was whizzing by her—nondescript strip malls, Target shopping centers, and fast-food places—made her feel like the puddle-jumper flight from Raleigh, North Carolina, had landed her right back there. If it hadn’t been for the woman in the driver’s seat who was chatting happily about something Bex couldn’t focus on, she would have wondered if this whole moving-across- the-state thing was just a big hoax.

    “Does that sound good to you?”

    The woman driving the Honda SUV smiled at Bex, her light- blue eyes sparkling even in the dim hint of twilight.

    Bex felt her mouth drop open. “I’m sorry, what?”

    Denise tucked a strand of deep-brown hair behind her ear. “I’m sorry, Bex. That’s such a cool name, by the way. I’m probably just talking your ear off. We’re just really happy to have you here. I know it can’t be easy for you…”

    The familiar lump started to form in the back of her throat and Bex shifted in the car seat, working the seat belt strap between her fingers. Her grandmother’s face flashed in her mind, and the familiar smells of the house where Bex had lived since she was seven years old filled her nostrils—her grandmother’s powdery, lavender smell; the sweet, cloying scent of night jasmine when it wafted through her bedroom curtains; the earthy smell of hot grass as she tromped barefoot through it.

    But that was a world away in another life. Her grandmother had passed seven months ago and Bex’s home had been sold. She’d been shifted into a “temporary care situation,” which basically meant she was stuck in a cross between an orphanage and juvenile hall until a foster home willing to take her opened up.

    And when one did, it was across the state in the Outer Banks with Denise and Michael Pierson, a couple in their early forties who only knew that Bex had lived with her grandmother.

    They didn’t know the truth.

    They didn’t know that Bex’s own mother had disappeared when Bex was only five years old and still called Beth Anne Reimer. They didn’t know that Beth Anne was doted on by a father who lavished her with costume jewelry and funky purses.

    They didn’t know that all the gifts Beth Anne’s father gave her had once belonged to women in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. Women who Beth Anne’s father—dubbed the Wife Collector in the press—had murdered.

    Allegedly. The word gnawed at Bex’s periphery.

    It was Beth Anne herself, a shy, moon-eyed seven-year- old, who had pointed a chubby finger at her own father when the police came to her house. Yes, she knew the pretty blond woman from the photograph, she had said to the police officer. The girl had been with them for two days before getting into the car with Beth Anne’s daddy. No, she didn’t know where they had gone. All she knew was that the blond lady never came back to the house, never came back for the nubby scarf she had wound around Beth Anne’s neck, so Beth Anne had kept it for herself.

    It was just a few days later that Beth Anne’s daddy was locked in that police cruiser and shuttled down to the courthouse. The newspapers and local news station splashed headlines everywhere and that single word—allegedly—seemed to grow smaller, to fade into the enormous text around it.

    Jackson Reimer, Alleged Wife Collector Murderer, Held in Local Jail

    Buy Links


    About the Author

    Hannah Schwartz lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes cozy mysteries, young adult fiction, chick lit, and grocery lists that she never seems to remember to bring to the grocery store. Hannah shares a house with two neurotic, feet-attacking cats and has Kryptonite-like weakness for donuts. Visit www.hannahjschwartz.com.

    Giveaway

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Friday, July 1, 2016

    Book Review: Salt to the Sea

    Title Salt to the Sea
    Author Ruta Sepetys
    Release Date February 2, 2016

    Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

    Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

    As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

    Yet not all promises can be kept.

    Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25614492-salt-to-the-sea
    Review

    I really enjoyed Between Shades of Gray. Ruta Sepetys really brought that story to life.

    I had really high hopes for Salt to the Sea. While it was a good book and I understand why so many people enjoyed it, it didn't live up to my expectations.

    On the one hand, it's clear to me that this novel was very well researched. It's very well written historical fiction that sheds light on a situation plenty of people know little to nothing about. This is definitely a plus.

    On the other hand, between the short chapters and the four alternating view points, we're not given much time to emotionally connect with any of the characters. This was the biggest downfall of Salt to the Sea. In a book like this, that emotional connection is what I really need to enjoy the book. Yes, I can still sympathize with the characters, but it's harder for me to empathize with them.

    Rating

    3 out of 5 stars