Tag Archive | Contemporary

REVIEW: The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

Read: December 21-28, 2016

Format: ARC Kindle Book

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Abrams / Amulet Books

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary / Magical Realism

Pages: 384

Challenges: 2017 YA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets—strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I acquired an ARC of this book from NetGalley and read it pretty quickly. The cover was what first attracted me to this book.  It’s just so… pretty with the blues and pinks and stars. I love the text and the imagery (which is entirely appropriate for the story) and… everything. The second thing that hooked me was the story concept, teen girl is pregnant… but she’s also the the daughter of a politician. I wanted to see how this drama unfolded. And honestly, it was not at all what I expected.

This is kind of an odd book. Not odd bad, just… hard to put my finger on how exactly to describe it.

16 year old Quinn is pregnant and has no recollection of ever having had sex. Sure, she’s messed around with her boyfriend, but nothing that could result in a baby! But there she was, pregnant.

This book follows Quinn throughout the nine months of her pregnancy while she tries to figure out when and how she ended up pregnant. She’s convinced it was rape and she has blocked any memory of the event. Until she discovers a secret about her grandmother.

I seriously can’t say much else about what happens without spoiling the story! I can say that I could not put this book down. I devoured it. I needed to know what happened next. At 76% I updated my reading progress on Goodreads with: “I still have no clue where this is going! And I’m loving it!” and my final thoughts were: “Wow! What a beautiful book.”

The only negative I have about this one aren’t really negatives about the story, just personal hatred for Quinn’s father. He just rubbed me the wrong way. I liked the rest of the family, but her dad is kind of a jerk.

So, I guess I’ll just tell you to give this book a chance and go into it with an open mind and be prepared for ambiguity.



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QUOTES

 “But I’m not lying. I don’t know how it happened! How am I supposed to figure it out if I’m telling the truth and none of you want to hear it?”

“…but I wanted to mention that my daughter had . . . an active imagination when she was younger. If she says anything that seems upsetting or unusual, please let me know . . .”

Because something was wrong, and if she could figure it out, maybe she could help.
Maybe she could save her.

If she hadn’t happened to go to the doctor, would she have been one of those girls who went all nine months without knowing? Because, clearly, there was something really wrong with her.

“…But you realize my boys would have to be superheroes? Like, wearing tiny little capes and doing impossible things.”

The words crept under her skin and stayed there, crawling around like maggots. And what other things had people said? What else did they think about her and her baby? The curiosity worked up into a frenzy inside of her. She didn’t care if the people were insane. She needed to know what they were saying.

Too many questions.
All she wanted was for someone to give her the answers.

“Seriously?” Jesse said, breaking into a jog. “You get to be friends with the ocean, and I get a pigeon?” 

 

REVIEW: Amp’d by Ken Pisani

Amp’d by Ken Pisani

Read: February 2 – 19, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Genre: Humor

Pages: 288

Reading Challenge(s): TBR 2017, Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Complete with painfully wry observations and delightfully caustic wit, this novel is a gritty exploration of what it’s like to feel incomplete in the world. All five fingers up for this bitterly satisfying tale.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Aaron is not a man on a hero’s journey. In the question of fight or flight, he’ll choose flight every time. So when a car accident leaves him suddenly asymmetrical, his left arm amputated, looking on the bright side just isn’t something he’s equipped to do.

Forced to return to his boyhood home to recuperate, Aaron is confronted with an aging father (a former Olympic biathlete turned hoarder), a mother whose chosen to live in a yurt with a fireman twelve years her junior, and a well-meaning sister whose insufferable husband proves love isn’t just blind, but also painfully stupid.

As Aaron tries to make the world around him disappear in a haze of Vicodin and medical marijuana, the only true joy in his life comes from daily ninety-second radio spots of fun science facts: the speed of falling raindrops, batteries made out of starfish, and sexual responses triggered by ringtones – all told in the lush, disembodied voice of commentator Sunny Lee, with whom he falls helplessly, ridiculously, in love. Aaron’s obsession with Sunny only hastens his downward spiral, like pouring accelerant on a fire. Pressured to do something – anything – to move his life forward, he takes the only job he can get. As a “fish counter” at the nearby dam, he concludes that an act of violent sacrifice to liberate the river might be his best, final option.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads.

 

Some of the books I win from Goodreads get relegated to the DNF pile so quickly they don’t even get reviews. This is not one of those books.

Amp’d by Ken Pisani is a real treat. Take one 40 year old man, recently sans-one arm, force him to move home to live with his dad (who may have a mild hoarding problem) and his pet alligator (who lives in the bathtub) and you’ve got a recipe for hilarity.

I’ll admit, the beginning of this book felt a little too literary for me, but I chuckled a few times so I kept with it. Soon enough I’d completely fallen in love with this story. I had no clue where the plot was going until the very end, but I was eager to read more about what was going to happen to Aaron next. Everything was so over the top and cartoonish it was hard not to love it. There’s a lot of drug humor, and I’m so not a drug humor kind of person, but these characters are just so charming. Besides, it was just medical Marijuana.

Honestly, this is the kind of book I have a hard time reviewing. A lot of things happen. Most of it was funny. Maybe not fall over crying with tears funny, but consistently garnering chuckles funny. I mean, Aaron befriends a little boy with cancer, who he refers to as Cancer Boy in the narrative. He gets a job counting fish. Yes. Counting fish. I refuse to expand upon this, you need to read the book to find out more. He has a friggen alligator living in his house!

That’s not to say the book doesn’t have any heart. There is quite a bit of emotion at the end. I didn’t cry, but the story literally came full circle and left me with a solid sense of closure that I feared I wouldn’t get from a book like this.

I’m glad I read this book. And I know this review is pretty abysmal, but I highly encourage those who enjoy humorous tales to read this as well. Amp’d is a hidden gem.



Get the Book here:

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QUOTES

 

If this were a book you’d know that the guy you meet on page 1, shattered and mutilated and staring into the abyss, would by the end of the story transcend his terrible circumstances to become a better man. But this isn’t a book, this is just me talking… and I’m not the guy who beats the odds and overcomes adversity; I’m the guy who wakes up in the hospital to find out his arm has been amputated and says, Fuck me.

 

“There’s an alligator in your bathtub.”
“I thought you knew.”
“If I did, I’d forgotten.”

 

“This is why I worry about you, honey. When things are bad, you pour accelerant on them.”

 

That’s how Dad finds us on his return, both picking our noses in his kitchen, his bottle of Fleischmann’s a guilty accomplice.
“Right,” he finally says. “There never was anything to do in this town.”

 

“What are you doing now?”
“Learning Chinese.”
“See? I just learned a sentence: Kway-UR yin-UH chee. Happy baby eat. Or it could be Eat happy baby. Yes, that’s better! The next time I see a happy Chinese baby, I can tell his parents to eat him.”

 

Her glare wilts, no match for my status as object of pity, an awesome power I should probably use for good, not evil, but know I’m going to milk like dairy farmer.

 

“If there was a future in bullshit, Aaron,” she says, “you’d be unstoppable.”

 

“I don’t remember what you wanted to be when you grew up—”
“Pretty sure it was a guy with two arms.”

 

As any hockey player could tell you, it’s harder to score after repeated blows to the head, rendering future offspring unlikely.

REVIEW: The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn

The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn

Read: July 27 – September 1, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Penguin First Reads)

My Book Rating: 2 Stars

Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery / Thriller

ABOUT THE BOOK

Sometimes the greater good requires the smaller evil.

17-year-old Arman Dukoff is struggling with severe anxiety and a history of self-loathing when he arrives at an expensive self-help retreat in the remote hills of Big Sur. He’s taken a huge risk—and two-thousand dollars from his meth-head stepfather—for a chance to “evolve,” as Beau, the retreat leader, says.

Beau is complicated. A father figure? A cult leader? A con man? Arman’s not sure, but more than anyone he’s ever met, Beau makes Arman feel something other than what he usually feels—worthless.

The retreat compound is secluded in coastal California mountains among towering redwoods, and when the iron gates close behind him, Arman believes for a moment that he can get better. But the program is a blur of jargon, bizarre rituals, and incomprehensible encounters with a beautiful girl. Arman is certain he’s failing everything. But Beau disagrees; he thinks Arman has a bright future—though he never says at what.

And then, in an instant Arman can’t believe or totally recall, Beau is gone. Suicide? Or murder? Arman was the only witness and now the compound is getting tense. And maybe dangerous.

As the mysteries and paradoxes multiply and the hints become accusations, Arman must rely on the person he’s always trusted the least: himself.


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

 

Basic premise: 17-year-old Arman has a crappy home life and is convinced that he screws everything up. He gets invited to go to this “retreat” by the groups leader, a charismatic father figure named Beau. Arman is led to believe he’s special, but then Beau is gone and Arman has holes in his memory. He’s been injured and doesn’t know how. He’s convinced Beau is dead, but the body is gone. Was it suicide? Did Arman kill him?

First things first, I wanted to read this book because I was convinced this “retreat” is really a cult. (It basically is.) I was intrigued. This is a step outside my normal reading box. And I enjoyed the journey. But this book did not leave me feeling satisfied. It left me wondering what I was supposed to take away. There was a conclusion in the end, we find out what really happened, but… I can’t figure out what the purpose of Arman’s journey was. There was a bunch of philosophical thoughts and ideas, and they just went over my head, I can’t imagine the average teenager taking away what the author meant, if she meant for them to take anything away.

There were also sections of text (un-numbered chapters if you will) in all italics, and I don’t know what it was. I think it was Beau talking to… someone? Maybe Arman? But maybe not? I didn’t get the purpose of it. I need someone to explain it to me!

In the end, this was a very strange book. It was mostly enjoyable, especially when I started to question EVERYTHING, including Arman’s sanity. I can’t give it more than 2 stars though because while the writing was very good, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, and as I mentioned above, I just can’t figure out what I was supposed to take away from this book.

I’ve read other reviews of this book mention this being the authors strangest book yet, so I would consider checking out one of her other books, because she does have a compelling writing style.


Get the The Smaller Evil here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

Faith is an investment, you tell her, when you see she doesn’t understand. You bargain now for what you hope matters later.

“You know what my father used to tell me about fear?”
“What’s that?”
“‘You only fear what you believe will kill you, never what will.’”
Dale stared at him. Then: “Your dad sounds like a dick.”

“Because always taking the easy route means forgetting there could be others. Maybe better ones. You can’t know unless you try.”

“What’s the doctrine of double effect?”

“It’s a philosophical principle that states an immoral act can sometimes be considered moral if the greater good outweighs the smaller evil.”

“Which would you rather believe in: a bad truth or a good lie?”

REVIEW: Friday Night Brides by Samantha Chase

Friday Night Brides by Samantha Chase

Read: May 9 – August 1, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Friday Night Brides is the story of four best friends. For the past 20 years they have modeled wedding fashions in a bridal show every Friday night. Now in their mid-twenties, we get to follow their (mis)adventures in love.

I love that this story followed four different main characters and the author did a great job weaving their individual stories into one cohesive book, and in making them stand out as their own person.

Hailey’s mom owns Enchanted Bridal, the whole reason for the Friday Night Brides existence. She’s in lust with the perfect Logan, who has never shown even an inkling of returning the attraction, and can’t stand Jackson, the long haired, tattooed bad boy who models in the shows as well.

Becca always falls for the wrong guy. She has self esteem issues because she doesn’t have the slim figures of her friends. When she meets Max though, her luck seems to turn around.

Angie doesn’t really have a filter, she tells it how it is. When her ex comes back into her life, she has to decide if she can forgive him and try again.

And finally, Ella: she and her boyfriend Dylan have been together since middle school. With their wedding looming before them, and growing out of control thanks to their families, she’s beginning to doubt being with just one man EVER.

The only reason this book took me so long to read is because I started reading too many at once. Once I dedicated myself to finishing this book toward the end of July I sped through it. I needed to know what was going to happen with each of the women. And I was not disappointed. This book reads like a drama on The CW – in a good way!

I wish I could say that one couples story was more interesting than another, but I loved them all. I would say Ella’s probably resonated with me most because she’s marrying the man she’s been with since forever. I also married my high school boyfriend and have experienced some of her same feelings about wonder what, if anything, she/I missed out on by not dating other people. As far as character growth, I feel like Hailey grew the most as a person.

If you’re looking for a fun contemporary romance that’s a little different than others, this is it for you. I was honestly afraid at first it might read like chic-lit, but thankfully it does not! (At least not the chic-lit I’ve read in the past!)

 


Get The Book

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

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QUOTES

 Okay, I was so engrossed in this book I only highlighted one passage because it spoke to me!

“You want to know how I see us? I see us as people who work hard and are planning for our future. While everyone else is running around—or sleeping around—we’re committed to each other. We’re not pissing away our money at bars and clubs. … You’re looking around and thinking ‘look at all we’re missing’ and acting like it’s a bad thing. I’m looking at the same people and thinking about it all with relief! You know what, El? I bet if you asked any of them they’d all rather be us!”

 

REVIEW: Just Say Maybe by Tracy March

GUESS WHAT! In 3 hours I’m meeting my fav author – Richelle Mead!!!

To keep me occupied until then, I’m posting this review for your enjoyment. (I’ve been putting off writing it for a few days now. Along with another review.)


BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM GOODREADS:

Award-winning author Tracy March follows up Should’ve Said No (“Wonderfully quirky . . . a pleasure to read!”—Laura Drewry) with this enchanting novel set in Thistle Bend, Colorado, a magical place where old wrongs are righted, and adventure leads to true love.

Real estate lawyer Holly Birdsong’s hike in the Rockies takes an unexpected turn when a smokin’-hot stranger tumbles off his bike and into her path. Turns out he’s purchasing the abandoned Lodge at Wild Rose Ridge, and Holly agrees to take him on as a client—despite her family’s traumatic history with the previous owner, who shamelessly abused the town’s goodwill at every turn. But when their professional relationship turns personal, Holly must reconcile the past with her hopes for the future.

Adding the rustic lodge to his portfolio of adventure properties isn’t just a business decision for Bryce Bennett. The rugged mountains also offer a killer setting for his extreme-sports camps for at-risk teens. What’s not in the blueprints is finding a kindred spirit in his irresistible lawyer, even if she seems apprehensive about getting involved in the deal. Bryce’s plan to ease her mind just might work, as long as no one discovers his secret. Yet he can’t stand hiding the truth from the woman who makes him want to build something permanent: a happily ever after.


REVIEW

Just Say Maybe by Tracy March

Series: Thistle Bend #2

Read: May 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Last September I had the privilege of reading Should’ve Said No, book 1 in Tracy March’s Thistle Bend series. I was impressed with a romance novel full of likable characters and a mystery to boot!

I was excited when Just Say Maybe appeared on NetGalley because why wouldn’t I want to follow up that fabulous 4-star book 1 with the sequel?

Well, I think I liked book 1 so much that I was let down by book 2. While book 1 featured the mystery as the center plot, this one is very much romance centric. Sure, Holly says she doesn’t want to be with Bryce if he’s not going to stay, but it was barely an obstacle. There was a misunderstanding and jumping to conclusions that had me rolling my eyes as well.

I did like the characters, they were interesting and believable. The hotel storyline was somewhat interesting, but I would have liked this book more if that was the central story, and not the romance.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like the romances to be built around the plot. If that makes sense. And this book felt like the plot was built around the romance.

I think those who like traditional contemporary romances will enjoy this book. I’ll probably read book 3 as well, but I doubt it will live up to book 1.


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REVIEW: Who I Am With You by Missy Fleming

Who I Am With You by Missy Fleming

Read: April 24-26, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:
After witnessing the devastating events of September 11th firsthand, Olivia Van den Berg turned to drugs in hopes of burying the horrifying memory of her parents’ deaths. Nine years later, she’s sober and back in New York for the first time to visit her dying grandmother. With no other heirs, the family business will fall on Olivia’s shoulders, but is she strong enough take her rightful place at the head of a multi-million dollar corporation?

Duncan McMurray is a FDNY firefighter and a hopeless mess. He lost so much that fateful day – his family, his department brothers, his will to live. Years later he’s still struggling to come to terms with his survivor’s guilt and he does it with any substance he can get his hands on. One thought keeps him going … the girl with the chestnut hair he saved as hell crashed down around him, the only proof he wasn’t a complete failure.

A strange encounter reunites Olivia and Duncan once again and the two feel an instant connection. As Olivia falls in love with the man from her past, doors to her future begin to open and she must decide which path to follow. Who I Am With You is a story of love, fear, addiction and coming to terms with who you are and who you are supposed to be.


MY REVIEW:

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

Who I Am With You is not a typical romance novel, it’s far more.

Olivia and Duncan are both broken people. It’s been 9 years since the Twin Towers fell on September 11th and both are still dealing with the trauma of being at ground zero. Olivia was meeting her parents, who were in the second tower. Duncan was a firefighter, rescuing people from the towers. On that tragic day, Duncan saved Olivia.

In the nine years since the towers fell, Olivia ran away to California, abandoning her responsibilities as the heir to her families company, and turned to a life of hard drugs to numb the pain of her PTSD. Clean and sober (for the 2nd or 3rd time — I can’t remember which) for a little over 10 months now, Olivia is forced to face her past and return to NYC when she learns her grandmother, the only relative she has left, is dying of cancer and doesn’t have long to live.

Duncan has remained a NYC firefighter, dealing with his own PTSD and survivors guilt with prescription drugs and a hero complex, taking chances on the job he shouldn’t. His actions in the years since 9/11 have distanced him from his family, he’s now separated from his wife and doesn’t spend much time with his two children.

But when Olivia has dinner with her BFF and Duncan walks in, everything changes. He’s never left her mind, nor she his. They never thought they’d see one another again. It was like fate, like they were meant to meet again. And so they begin a relationship. But is it healthy for Olivia to be with a man who is still so angry and broken, when she’s doing so well on her path to sobriety? Will he lead her astray, into yet another relapse? Or perhaps, can she save him, just like he saved her all those years ago?

This story is so beautifully written. I’ve been a fan of Missy Fleming for years now and I’m always so excited to read her next book. Her teen Savannah Shadows series is toward the top of my all time favorite books, so when she offered me a chance to read this book I jumped.

This book has a beautiful love story with twists and turns along the way. There’s sadness and joy, grief and anger. I don’t recommend reading most of this book in public. I cried more than once. Anyone personally affected by 9/11 will probably have trouble as well. It’s obvious the author did a lot of research. I felt like I was at the base of the towers, watching the aftermath. I felt the dust and ash on my skin as I read the words, I felt Olivia’s fear and pain.

I can’t recommend this book enough. So, go grab it. It’s currently free on Kindle Unlimited, or only $1.99 to buy. That’s a steal.


GET THE BOOK

AMAZON KINDLE  |  GOODREADS

 

REVIEW: Fifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw

Fifteen Lanes by S. J. LaidlawFifteen Lanes by S. J. Laidlaw

Read: March 31 – April 4, 2016

Format: ARC Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Genre: YA Contemporary

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

When I requested this book from NetGalley, I’m not really sure what I was thinking. I like a certain type of book and I don’t often deviate. When I deviate, I usually end up disappointed. So, while I have no clue what made me think I’d enjoy this book, I’m glad I clicked the REQUEST button, because this book will stay with me for a very long time.

 

“There is a whole world of possibilities beyond our fifteen lanes”

Fifteen Lanes is a story of two girls in India, told in dual perspectives. Noor is a a young teen girl living in a brothel in the slums of India. Her mother is a sex worker and she knows it’s only time before she herself is sold off into the sex trade. Until then, she attends a school where nobody knows her true identity, and she cares for her younger sister and brother. She dares to dream that maybe someday she can escape this life and rent a room for herself, her mother, her siblings, and all of her friends who are slaves to the brothel.

Meanwhile, across town, there’s fifteen year old rich, white girl, Grace. She has problems of her own when she becomes the victim of malicious bullying. Her problems may not be as bad as Noor’s, but we all have our limits, and Grace has reached hers.

 

Can two girls from two completely different worlds save each other?

Side by side Noor and Grace are night and day. They live in completely different worlds and are going through completely different ordeals, but together they form a friendship. I wish the book had given more time to develop their friendship, as they met after the 50% point in the book and probably only saw each other on two separate occasions before the books climax.

You would think that Grace, who has never gone hungry, never slept on the streets, would be the stronger of the girls, but it’s Noor. Noor has been through hell, it’s all she knows. Of the two, she is the strongest and in the end, they have to save each other.

 

I think the book could have worked (possibly better?) just telling Noor’s side of the story, however giving the reader Grace’s POV may help some readers who are either unable to identify with Noor, or hesitant to even start the book because they’re afraid to dive into a culture so different from their own.

Remember when I said that I read what I know I’ll like, and I’m not sure why I requested this book?

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to identify with Noor, being that she’s from the slums of a third world country and I’m middle class American. I was wrong, she was so easy to empathize with. That in itself is a true testament to an authors abilities.

I was afraid that the subject matter would be too dark—and it is—but the way the book is written, it doesn’t feel so dark. That’s not to say the author sugar coats things, she simply gives as much detail about the horrors of Noor’s world as a young reader needs. I cried more than once reading this book and I know if the author had chosen to go darker with more details, I would not have been able to finish, and I would not have been able to expand my world view via this book.

 

I would love to see Fifteen Lanes in schools. This book sheds a whole new light on #firstworldproblems. This book makes me want to do more for the world.

 

To sum it all up, my final status update for this book on Goodreads when I reached the end: In tears. Wow.

REVIEW: Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott

No Tidy Up Tuesday today. I’ve been slacking. I have done little things here and there, like putting books on a shelf that were piled in front of it, but nothing worth blogging about. Hopefully soon I’ll find the motivation to dive into a bigger tidying project and really work to get this done!

I have been getting editing done on my teen vampire/witch novel (tentatively titled Blood & Magic) and hope to be done with the third draft soon. This is a story that began in my head back in 2008, was first drafted during NaNoWriMo in 2013, and has been somewhat neglected ever since. 🙁 This project is my baby though, and I intend to give it my all before I release her to the world.

I did finish a fabulous book last night though. This is one of the ARC’s I won from Goodreads First To Read and I’m absolutely stoked to share it with you all. So, read on!


I’m not crazy about the cover, but it’s appropriate.

Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott
Series: Popcorn Shop Mystery #1
Read: March 3-7, 2016
Format: Print Book ARC (Goodreads First To Read)
My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery

I received an ARC of this book from Goodreads First To Read and Penguin Random House, Berkley Prime Crime.

I loved this book from page one.

“The caramel sauce was almost three hundred and fifty degrees when the screaming started.

I wasn’t proud that my first instinct was to ignore it. The screaming that is, not the sauce.” (Page 1)

I don’t think I’ve ever actually read a cozy mystery before, but if they’re all like this book, sign me up!

Rebecca Anderson is home again. After her rebellious teen years after her parents death, she ran away to California to attend a culinary arts school. There she met the infamous Antoine, fell in love, and got married. Eleven years later she’s divorced and, with the help of her beloved mentor Coco, has started her own gourmet popcorn shop, called POPS, on main street in her small town. Things are looking up for Rebecca, until Coco is found dead in her shop, Cocoa’s Coco, next door to POPS. Rebecca and Coco had plans to start a joint business venture together.


The cast of characters in this book is great. There’s Rebecca of course, who always seems to find her way into trouble. Dan, Rebecca’s best friend since forever and the town sheriff, who also happens to be married to Rebecca’s sister Haley. There’s Jessica, Coco’s niece, who has hated Rebecca since forever. We can’t forget Allen, the skeevy mayor who has his sights set on owning Coco’s storefront property. There’s Annie, another store owner on main street and close friend of Rebecca’s. Plus Jasper and Tom, a couple of panhandlers. Garrett is new to town, he’s Dan’s college friend and a lawyer. And Sprocket, Rebecca’s dog, who is practically human in his mannerisms.

Page 262

Page 262

I love character driven stories, and this was absolutely a character driven story. Every character was brought to life and had flaws and quirks that made them real. I want to live in this small town! I figured out who did it early on, though there were some red herrings thrown in. Even though I knew who did it and was waiting for the big reveal, I enjoyed every second of this story.

My only complaint is that at times the writing was overly simplistic, and I feel there should have been more commas used, but once I got over that and into the story I had a really hard time putting it down. Just one more chapter would turn into three more chapters. Before I knew it, my midnight bedtime had turned into 2 am.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! Will I read the next book in the series? Most likely!

Romance is in the Air…. Propose To Me! (Giveaway)

February. The month of Valentine’s Day, Romance & Love.
And what’s more romantic than a marriage proposal?

In my short story debut to the publishing world, Running Late, featured in the anthology Propose To Me, Paige is expecting a breakup, but like all of the heroine’s in the anthology, receives a marriage proposal instead.

What I love about Paige and Will’s relationship is that it’s very normal. A couple who meets in college and falls in love. I normally write (and read) about vampires and witches and other paranormal creatures, but writing about a completely normal couple was a refreshing change. Some relationships can stand completely on their own.

 

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But first…. enjoy a short excerpt from Running Late!

 

After a shower and a wardrobe change, followed by hair and makeup, Paige was ready.“There,” Lauren said as she bobby pinned the last stray hair out of Paige’s face. “He’ll wonder if you’re even the same girl!”

“Hopefully that won’t scare him off,” Paige said with a laugh. “He did buy coffee for the me with the untamed hair and grunge clothes.”

“He probably thought you were homeless,” Lauren joked.

Paige glared and punched her friend playfully in the arm. She couldn’t be too offended since she’d had the exact same thought after all. “I don’t do mornings.”

“Believe me, I know.”

At 5:40, the girls headed down to the front entrance of the dorm. Lauren insisted on escorting Paige, under the pretense of being a witness, just in case Will was actually a serial killer. Paige knew the real reason; her friend wanted to get a good look at Will, to see if he lived up to Paige’s description.

It was exactly 5:45 when a green SUV pulled to a stop in front of them. Paige waited with baited breath until she saw Will step around the front of the vehicle and smile at her. He looked delicious in a nice pair of blue jeans and a crisp button down dress shirt. Until that moment, she hadn’t been aware that college guys even owned dress shirts. She hadn’t been quite sure what to wear herself, but Lauren had insisted that you can never be overdressed. She had said, “It’s best to look better than everyone else, versus looking like a slob in comparison.” Therefore, Lauren had helped her pick out an earth tone print dress from Paige’s closet, paired with Lauren’s brown cowboy boots and brown leather jacket.

“You look amazing,” Will said as he stopped directly in front of her. They stood awkwardly for a moment, neither quite sure of the appropriate greeting. A hug? A handshake? Surely it was too soon for a kiss.

Lauren broke the tension. “Hi, I’m Lauren, Paige’s roommate.”

“Will,” he introduced himself, offering Lauren his hand.

“Now, I want you two to have a good time, but I expect her home by 9:30,” Lauren deadpanned.

Will looked confused for a brief moment before Paige cut in. “She’s kidding.” She forced a laugh, then glared at her friend.

Lauren grinned innocently. “But seriously, before you go, stand next to each other and smile!”

Will put one arm around Paige’s shoulder. Even through her jacket, she could feel the warmth of his hand on her skin, sending tingles of pleasure straight down her arm. She looked up at him, a smile on her face. Lauren quickly snapped a couple photos on her phone and said her farewells.

“Shall we?” Will gestured to the SUV.

“Let’s shall.”

Will opened her door and helped her in, then returned to the driver’s side.

“Where are we eating?” she asked to fill the silence.

“Have you ever been to Donatelli’s?” he asked.

She shook her head.

“It’s a family restaurant in a suburb northeast of here. They’ve been around for years and years. My parents took me and my sisters there a lot as kids.”

“Sounds good,” Paige replied. “How many sisters do you have?”

“Two. I’m in the middle. Rachel is twenty-five and Sarah is seventeen.”

“Do you get along with them?”

“For the most part. I think there’s a big enough age gap between each of us that we don’t have as much sibling rivalry as we would have if we were closer in age.”

Paige nodded.

“What about you?” Will asked.

“What about me?”

He chuckled. “Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

“Nope. It’s just me.”

“Do you like being an only child?”

She shrugged. “I don’t have anything to compare it to.” She paused in thought for a moment. “I always picture myself having at least three kids though, in the future.”

Was it bad dating etiquette to talk about how many kids you want on a first date? She blushed, afraid she’d made a faux pas. Too late now.

“Only three?” Will asked. She looked up at him in surprise, his face was dead serious. “I want at least seven. Maybe more.”

Her mouth fell open. “Seriously?”

He broke into a grin, then laughed. “No. I don’t think I could handle that many. I want at least two—that much I know.”

Paige tried not to smile. She failed miserably and broke into a fit of giggles as well.

Despite her first date nerves, Paige found it easy to keep up a conversation with Will. By the time they arrived at the restaurant twenty minutes later, it felt as if they were old friends. Almost. She was still a little nervous, but she was feeling more and more comfortable with Will as the night wore on. They talked about their hometowns, their school careers, their childhood friends. They discovered that both of their families spent a week or two each summer driving up to Northern Minnesota and renting a cabin on one of the many lakes. For all they knew, it was possible they had spent time at the same resort at one point during their childhood. Not likely, but it was fun to imagine.

When Will returned her to the dorms later that night, their bellies full and leftovers in a box, Paige was both sad the night was over, and relieved to be able to relax in her dorm and tell Lauren all about the date.

“So, this is me,” Paige said, looking out the passenger side window at the dorm looming before them.

“This is you,” he echoed.

Paige turned to face Will.

“I had a—” they each started at the same time. They both stopped and laughed.

Will gestured for Paige to go first.

“I had a really good time.”

“Me, too.”

Paige stared into his eyes and melted. She seriously felt like her insides were turning to goo. Her heart sped up as she stared at the smile playing on his lips.

Will leaned forward and Paige froze. Was he going in for a kiss?

He continued to lean closer and finally she snapped to it and leaned forward to meet him. Their lips met and Paige savored the warmth of his mouth on hers. The kiss was short, but intense. Paige felt like she was soaring. She felt like she could run a marathon. She had no idea how she would possibly sleep tonight after experiencing this kiss.

They slowly parted, eyes opening and staring at each other. Paige felt a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. It matched the one she saw on Will. They took their time, just staring at each other.

A horn honked somewhere outside their world, breaking the moment.

Will quickly opened the driver’s door and climbed out, walking around to open her door.

He offered his hand and helped her out.

“I had a great time,” she said.

“You already said that.” He grinned at her.

She blushed and looked down at her boots.

“Will I see you tomorrow?” he asked her. “At the coffee shop?”

She nodded. “You can bet on it.”

He walked her to the door, and as she made her way down the hall, she could feel his eyes still on her. She looked back before she turned the corner and waved. He waved back, then returned to his SUV and drove off.

Paige rounded the corner and let her body sink back against the wall.

Wow.

 

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REVIEW: Finding Clara by Jannie Lund

Finding Clara by Jannie Lund

Read: October 26, 2015

Format: Kindle Ebook

My Book Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

Eve Quinn was kidnapped. 27 years later, Clara Christensen discovers she is really Eve – a victim of a ‘white laundering kidnapping’ scheme. Her adoptive parents, now dead, had no clue their daughter was procured illegally. Now, Clara finds herself in a foreign country on the doorstep of her birth parents, preparing to meet the family she never knew—the family who has spent 27 long years waiting for her return.

In a twist of fate, the Quinn’s had taken in (though not officially adopted) a young man named Duncan. A man who would go on to meet and fall in love with a Danish woman named Clara while on vacation, only to find the phone number she gave him illegible.

This was my first book by Jannie Lund and it will not be my last. She has a way of making the characters real and come to life.

This is a sweet, clean romance. It’s also Clara’s story of discovering who she really is, learning to adapt to a large family who remembers her as a baby, and her parents having to realize that the Eve they lost will never return, and having to learn to accept Clara as she is.

And, as far-fetched as it is that the Duncan Clara met on vacation would just happen to be the same man her biological parents took in as a boy it’s easily overlooked. This is a feel good story I didn’t want to end.

Should you read Finding Clara? YES! If you enjoy sweet contemporary romances I think you’ll love this story.

 

Disclaimer: I work for the company that released this book, however I receive no monetary compensation for any sales of this book. My employment with the company in no way changes my opinions or rating of the book.