Historical YA Fiction
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
July 5, 2016
Goodreads First Reads Win
April 23 - May 19, 2023
Set in Depression-era Virginia, this is the story of orphaned Amelia and her struggle to keep her siblings together.
With her mama recently dead and her pa sight unseen since birth, fourteen-year-old Amelia is suddenly in charge of her younger brother and sister, and of the family gas station. Harley Blevins, local king and emperor of Standard Oil, is in hot pursuit to clinch his fuel monopoly. To keep him at bay and her family out of foster care, Melia must come up with a father, and fast. And so when a hobo rolls out of a passing truck, Melia grabs opportunity by its beard. Can she hold off the hounds till she comes of age?
I hated this book when I started it. H.A.T.E.D. It was boring, the dialect was annoying, and I was just not engaged. But I kept reading. I won a copy of this book years ago from a Goodreads giveaway, so I felt an obligation to give it a fair shot. And then… somehow… by the end of the book…. Dangit, I kinda liked it!
It’s 1934 when 14-year-old Melia’s mother dies, leaving her and her younger brother and sister orphans. Fear of being torn apart and thrown into foster care, Melia does the only thing she can think of. She takes in a vagabond and tells everyone he’s her father. The man, Hiram, agrees to play along, in exchange for a roof over his head and whatever food the orphans can spare to to feed him.
Meanwhile, Harley Blevins, the owner of all of the gas stations around town is circling like a shark. Because without Melia’s mother around, Brenda’s Oasis, the gas station she owned, is ripe for the picking. But Melia won’t give up that easily. That gas station is her mothers legacy and the only thing she and her siblings have.
For a long time this book felt pointless. It wasn’t until the end when everything came to a head. Suddenly I couldn’t stop after just one chapter, I had to know what was going to happen next. Honestly, if you pick up this book, read it for the ending. It’s full of a lot of feelings and in the end, every piece of it that felt pointless, suddenly made sense.
This would be a great book for young adults who are learning about the Great Depression, as it paints a picture of what life was like for some.
3.5 Stars, rounded down to 3 because the beginning was so boring!
I’m THRILLED to announce that SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT (a clean, teen romance) will be available June 18, 2019! You will be able to get both ebook and print copies.
This book is the first in my Sol del Mar High series. Each book will stand on its own, but they do happen in chronological order, so to avoid any spoilers I am recommending they be read in order.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Summer was the girl who had it all: good grades, a spot on the high school volleyball team, and a best friend since elementary school. Then she was diagnosed with lupus…and her best friend betrayed her. Now she’s cutting ties, because nobody should have to deal with someone as broken as her.
Kane is the guy who never gives up. When he puts his mind to something, he gets it done—no matter how many broken bones it takes. So when a chance encounter at the urgent care throws him in the path of Summer, the girl he’s secretly had a crush on for years, he’s determined to win her heart.
Despite her vow to keep people away, Summer finds herself falling for Kane’s charm. Will the boy who never gives up be able to win—and keep—the heart of the girl who is afraid to let people in?
Google Play and Apple Books are still processing, but will be available shortly.
My Health and Better Eating Journey
I intended to write another post on this sooner, but c’est la vie. I got busy!
Things are going pretty well for me. I’ve been pretty successful cutting out added sugar. I have a couple grams per day, but coming from a candy/cookie/ice cream addict, this is a giant leap forward!
NOTE: I’ve decided to go for a low carb, high fat, moderate protein food plan. (I don’t like to call this a diet, because diets end. I plan to eat healthy for life. With cheats allowed more often once I reach my target!) I would love to go full Keto (cutting down to the bare minimum of carbs, if you don’t know what Keto is) but I don’t feel the desire to go that extreme. At least not yet!
A typical day for me for food looks like this:
2 eggs fried in either coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil. I’ve been making it as an janky omelette, because I can’t make an omelette to save my life. So it’s somewhere between an omelette and a breakfast skillet!
To my egg mush I usually add all or most of the following: deli turkey, shredded Italian style cheese, spinach, onion (green, red, or sweet), tomato, and avocado. If I don’t have avocado, I sometimes add this guacamole stuff we get from Costco in individual packets. It’s not spicy, but it is very salty, so I prefer the fresh avocado and salt it myself with pink Himalaya sea salt.
Now that berries are in season and affordable, I’ve been pairing this with a small handful of strawberries, blueberries, and/or raspberries. Right now I also have cantaloupe. (Not a berry, I know, but fruit!)
I was struggling to eat my minimum daily calories, so I’ve also added a cup of milk with a scoop of strawberry protein powder. In the past I’ve saved this for post-workouts, but on days when I know I won’t be working out I’ll drink it with breakfast to boost my calories and protein for the day.
This is where the sugar comes into play. I make my own trail mix with salted peanuts, walnuts, pistachios (my favorite!), pecans, almond slivers, hazelnuts, and a couple of dark chocolate covered almonds. They’re my reward for eating all the nuts! In all it’s about half a cup, and it fills me enough and it’s a TON of calories! (Like, 550 calories!)
Sometimes I bring a salad, or carrots and hummus. (Which reminds me! I forgot to buy hummus today at the store! Dang it!)
I do way better with dinner when I plan ahead. Unfortunately, I’m REALLY bad at planning ahead! Some foods I’ve made in the past month:
Bunless burger (I add all the toppings: lettuce, onion, tomato, avocado when I have it, and yes ketchup – more added sugar, but it’s minimal) and eat it with a fork.
Salmon burgers (they sell these at Costco. They’re a little pricey, but they’re a good source of omega-3’s. I add mayo to mine, which is surprisingly NOT awful for me! I get the kind with olive oil.)
Grilled chicken breast. My George Foreman grill has been getting quite the workout between the burgers and chicken!
For side dishes I’ll have either salad, steamer bags of veggies, or I’ll heat up non-steamer veggies (usually broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or some mix of those.)
We bought some marinaded salmon from Costco recently and tried that last night. It was pretty good, but I had a hard time eating my full 5.3 oz fillet!
Evening is when I run into trouble. I go to bed late-ish. Usually between 11 and 12. And I get hungry between dinner and bed, and I HATE going to bed early. I’ve read all about intermittent fasting, but it’s just not for me. If my tummy is grumbly, I’ll stay awake thinking about how hungry I am.
I’ve caved and had cereal (I’ve been pretty good about avoiding the sugary stuff, and the times I have caved, I’ve discovered I didn’t even like it anymore!) and granola bars (bad choice! Even the “healthy” ones are PACKED with too much added sugar!)
So, I need to find better snacks for myself. I bought the ingredients to try a Keto “copy-cat” Frosty (from Wendy’s.) I’m hoping to try that in the next couple days.
This is where I’m thriving! Food has always been a challenge for me, but if I decide to work out, I’m good at sticking to it. At least for a while. But this time I’m more determined than I’ve ever been before in my life, and being about a month into this endeavor, I feel confident!
Week 1: Worked out 3x (weight lifting x2, yoga x1) for a total of 1 hour 20 min
Week 2: worked out 3x (cardio with weights x3) for a total of 1.5 hours
Week 3: Worked out 4x (weights x 2, cardio with weights x1, and PiYo x1) for a total of 2 hours, 15 minutes
Week 4: Worked out 5x (weights x3, cardio with weights x1, Piyo x1, and a 4 minute tabata that barely counts) for a total of 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Week 5: Still going, but currently I’m at 3 workouts (weights x1, cardio x2) for a total of 1 hour, 44 minutes. I over worked my legs a bit by not taking a rest day between the full body weight routine and the cardio, so I’m giving myself 2 rest days now.)
Finding time to exercise has been pretty easy. Weekends I just pick a time and go with it. Week days I’ve been either exercising right after work, or after dinner.
Not included above are my walks. Each day the weather is nice and we don’t have anywhere to be right away, I go on a walk around the neighborhood with my kids. We usually go about a mile, give or take.
Step Count: The recommendation is 10,000 steps per day. That’s been pretty impossible for me, so I set my own goal at 6,000 steps and even that was a challenge. I’ve since upgraded from a FitBit One, which was clipped to my shirt, to a FitBit Charge 3, which I wear on my wrist.
THE DIFFERENCE YOU GUYS! The Charge 3 tracks more steps, but when compared for half a day, the count wasn’t too different between the One and the Charge 3. I do have to take off the Charge 3 if I’m sitting and folding laundry because it thinks I’m walking.
I love that the Charge 3 tracks my sleep cycles (how accurate it is I don’t know, but it sure is fun!) AND it has the option to REMIND ME to get up and MOVE every hour if I haven’t taken 250 steps that hour! I’m a very competitive person at times, so I really like trying to get the 250 steps every single hour.
So between the Charge 3 motivating me to get up and move more often, and all my exercise I’m doing anyway, my step count has gone WAY up!
Ah, weight. That’s what it’s all about, right? Losing weight.
Now, I’m not super overweight. Technically, for my height I believe I’m within the “healthy” range, but I do have enough flab around my middle to make me very self-conscious. I was always the kid who was super skinny. I was teased in middle school and called “toothpick” because I was so scrawny.
So yeah, weight has always been a big thing for me, and I’ve always identified myself as “skinny,” but looking in the mirror, that’s just not true anymore.
My goal is to lose 15 lbs. But that may not even happen because I’m gaining muscle. (I HAVE BICEPS YOU GUYS!) My ACTUAL goal is to lose the belly flab from incubating two humans AND not even trying to battle a severe sweet addiction that was pretty out of control up until recently.
So I’ve been tracking my weight daily. (Well, almost daily. I forgot a couple of days. Whoops!) I’ve been logging my food to make sure my calories and macros are not out of control. But looking at the weight drop, and then bounce back, is pretty disheartening.
And then I had a wake up call. I read an amazingly helpful article on Medium (I believe it was Medium anyway!) and the author said to ignore the day to day weight fluctuation. It’s going to happen to everyone. (And I already knew that, but it still felt like all my hard work was for naught!) Instead he said, take every reading from the scale for a week, add them up, and divide by the number of days. THAT is your weight for the week. As long as that number is moving down each week, you’re making progress.
So I did it.
Week 1 to 2: -1.44 lb Week 2 to 3: -0.23 lb Week 3 to 4: -1.68 lb Week 4 to 5: (this week is still going, but I’m betting I’ll drop a little bit!)
Seeing the numbers like this makes me believe what I’m doing is working. And I keep reminding myself that I’m building muscles.
What I’m Reading
I’m between e-books/audiobooks at the moment, but I listened to the audiobooks for the following recently:
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kawn – LOVED this one! I didn’t want to stop reading. Every character was WONDERFUL and I really enjoyed the narrator! I can’t wait to see the movie one of these days!
Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard – The narrator on this one semi-ruined the book for me. I really hated the accents she made for the characters. This is the third in the series. (Well, 4th in the series released, but from what I understand you don’t need to read Sightwitch as part of the series order. So I didn’t.) Story wise, I enjoyed this one. I loved getting to see more of Aeduan and getting into his head. If you’re a fan of YA fantasy with light romance, this is a series worth checking out. I love the characters, though the plot/magic is a little confusing, it’s not so bad that you can’t read past it.
I have a number of print books started. I have a bit of book ADD going on. My focus right now is A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (third in the Song of Ice and Fire series) and The Baby Game by Randall Hicks.
So….. scroll up and pre-order SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT if you haven’t yet, and let me know if you have any favorite healthy recipes for me to try!
Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber celebrates the most wonderful time of the year in this heartwarming Christmas novel of romance, hope, and the comforts of home—coming soon as a Hallmark Channel original movie!
Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help twenty-four-year-old Addie Folsom get her life back on track—and, if the right moment strikes, help her find love. Posing as a teacher at a local college in Tacoma, Washington, Harry is up to the task, but not even he can predict the surprises that lay in store.
After trying to make it on her own, Addie has returned home to Tacoma for the holidays, but this time she plans to stay for good, enrolling in the local community college to earn her degree. What she doesn’t plan to do is run into Erich Simmons.
Addie and her next-door neighbor, Erich, are like night and day. Growing up, he was popular and outgoing while she was rebellious and headstrong, and he never missed an opportunity to tease her. Now she intends to avoid him entirely, yet when they’re suddenly forced to spend Christmas together, Addie braces for trouble.
Perhaps it’s the spirit of the season or the magic of mistletoe, but Addie and Erich soon find they have more in common than they thought—and that two people who seem so wrong for each other may actually be just right. With a little prompting from a certain angelic teacher, the two are in for a holiday miracle they’ll never forget.
I have now read two holiday novellas by Debbie Macomber and I think it’s safe to say that I am not her target reader.
It was a chore for me to finish this book. I started reading this book on October 17…. and didn’t finish until December 23. That’s over 2 months reading this book.
Where do I even start… I guess I’ll go with character development. Or lack thereof. There were so many characters crammed into this little book and at the end I’m left not caring about a single one of them. Addie and Erich could have been really interesting characters, except Addie was an immature brat. Erich was stubborn and sullen. I was given no reason to like either of them, and I honestly don’t know why they fell for one another either.
To add confusion to this hot mess, there are two storylines sort of connected. Based on the blurb I thought this would be a romance between Addie and Erich with the angel helping push them together. And it is. Except half the book is following the angel, who is on earth posing as a college literature professor named Harry Mills. For an angel who is only God knows how old, he sure had no idea how life on earth worked. I know that experiencing isn’t the same as observing, but it was ridiculous how dumb he was at times.
Writing this review just makes me more annoyed at this book so I’m not going to say much more. In conclusion I’m left with underdeveloped characters I don’t care about and two storylines, neither of which was compelling.
I don’t remember the last time I was so happy to finish a book. I would only read another book by this author if it was recommended by a friend with similar book tastes… and probably only one who has also read and hated this book. Apologies to the author, she’s very popular for her Christmas novels, so maybe she just ran out of inspiration by the time she wrote this one?
He’d heard about angels like this, ones who were given an earthly assignment and lost their heavenly perspective. Sadly, they got caught up in the temptations of Earth. That wouldn’t be a problem for him, of course.
Grinning like the cat who’d found a bowl of cream, Erich slowly shook his head. “You were jealous.”
My (Writing) Life
This post is scheduled in advance, so if you’re reading this on Christmas day, I’m busy spending time with my family.
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe from New York Times bestselling author, Melissa de la Cruz, is a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.
Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.
Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32-years-old and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?
I don’t know why I keep reading retelling of Pride & Prejudice. None of them live up to the original story and this book was no different.
First, I need to preface this by saying I’ve tried to read exactly one other book by Melissa de la Cruz and I hated it and quit after about two chapters. I am clearly not her ideal reader. That said, this sounded like a cute Christmas story and perfect for my 12 Books of Christmas reading challenge. If you’ve enjoyed the author’s other work, you may fall in love with this story.
So, we’ll start off with the good things. I love that the author chose to do a gender swap, it’s always nice to shake things up a little bit that way. I also really liked the sub-characters, specifically Bingley and Luke’s brother… who’s name I can’t even remember anymore. I like that the author chose to include a same-sex couple, that really helped to modernize the classic tale. Darcy was a self-made woman who left home all on her own to live the life she wanted, not the one her parents wanted for her, and I love and respect that.
Unfortunately my list of dislikes far surpassed my likes. Most importantly, I hated Darcy. While I loved that she was self-made and successful, she was just so immature. I hated almost everything about her and the way she behaved. I didn’t like how Luke acted either half the time. Neither of them held the charm that Lizzy and Mr. Darcy from the original tale possessed, and unfortunately they came across as unlikable and their actions were unredeemable in this reader’s eyes.
Honestly, this book just left a bad taste in my mouth. Darcy and Luke’s lack of communication with one another and their personal hang ups and immaturity made them perfect for one another, because I’d hate for anyone else to be saddled with them.
At least I can say that my time reading this is over, and I know to never pick up another Melissa de la Cruz book in the future.
So, should you read this? I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends, but if you’re a fan of the authors previous work you may fall in love with this one.
See, it is an assumption universally made that any beautiful, brilliant, single woman who is rich as hell will be in want of a husband. She’d heard it time and time again.
Wanting to be near family and actually being near family were two completely different things.
There had been a part of her that thought maybe, after all these years, there was no way he could still be so mad, or so hurt, whichever it was.
Mr. Fitzwilliam’s wishes for his daughter were twofold, and the second fold involved her doing what a truly good and honorable woman would do: give birth to children and dedicate her life to raising them.
From their very first kiss until now, his kissing technique had evolved in no way whatsoever. It had always been good, sure, but not incredible. It was nice, practiced, wholesome, almost regulated. He had reliable rhythm and predictable moves.
Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.
Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.
But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.
I received a copy of this book from the Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.
I heard good things about this book, so when I saw it on Penguin First To Read I took a chance and guaranteed a copy for myself. I started reading soon after… and it took me a long time to get through his one.
Brief summary: a big corporation in the not-so-distant future has gathered a group of poor teenagers, offered them enough money to keep them and their families comfortable for life, and taken them aboard their space ship en-route to a new planet called Eden. They need the kids because the native peoples on this planet hate humans, but they have a deep affection for children and won’t hurt them.
So, I’ll start with the negatives…
Early on I was honestly bored. This book had a little bit of a Divergent feel to it, but I didn’t really feel any emotion or connection to the characters. I think part of the problem was that they dumped SO many characters on us at once. By about 15% things were looking up and I was enjoying it a little more.
The main character, Emmett, has some characteristics that bothered me. He would call his parents “moms and pops” – I’ve heard pops before, but something about moms just grated on me. It’s a personal thing, not a deal breaker.
The other thing Emmett did that drove me crazy was saying things like “I filed that under A for Anger” all the time. They finally explained WHAT that was all about, but it was too little too late for me. The annoyance was firmly there.
Too many characters were introduced all at once and I was really never given a chance to really get to know them. Not even the one involved with the first big plot twist around 30%. Had I been really given a chance to connect with that character I might have gotten bent out of shape.
The villains were a little one dimensional. I’m hoping they will evolve when it comes to book 2.
Okay, all that said, there were a lot of things I DID like. I mean, I’m giving it 4 stars after all.
This book is very creative. Just the concept of Nyxia (this alien material that can be controlled by your thoughts) is fascinating as all get out. There’s more to the substance than we know as well, it’s already been alluded to, and I look forward to finding out more.
The challenges the kids underwent were also very creative and unique. They got a little repetitive at times, but overall I did enjoy them.
This book is as about diverse as one can imagine. The protagonist is African American from Detroit, his bestie on board the ship is from the Middle East. His roommate is from Asia. There’s tons of representation in this book and it was pretty awesome.
The plot twist at the end. I did NOT see that coming. I was left speechless. With an ending like that there’s no way I can skip book 2.
So, should you read this? If you’re looking for a (mostly) unique Sci-Fi teen novel, this might just do the trick. It has a few flaws, but on a whole the creative and unique bits (and that ending!!!) make for a pretty compelling read.
When Babel recruited me, they said all of this was a game. I like playing games, but I like winning even more.
“The reward for your efforts will be beyond your imagination. A trust fund has already been established for each of you. A check for fifty thousand dollars will be put into your account every month for the rest of your lives.”
I almost laugh, thinking we’re the politically correct version of the Justice Squad. But if Babel’s looking for heroes, they picked the wrong guy.
Habitable planets. Aliens. Right. Our generation watched the Mars landings. We’ve seen NASA’s recruiting posters all over our high schools. But there’s never been a whisper of other life-forms.
“I get a suit?”
He nods. “And a gun.”
“Congratulations,” Defoe says. “Expect adjustments to the course tomorrow.”
Translation: The glitch will be fixed, but we like that you took advantage of it.
“Yes, but are you familiar with the phrase, ‘you should see the other guy’?”
I nod. “Of course.”
“Well, you should see the other guy,” Defoe says, throwing me that dangerous grin of his.
“And how did it make you feel?”
Oh. He’s one of those doctors.
“The sky isn’t much of a sky. More of a misty overload pressing down on any and every thing.
Does Morning want to talk, or does she want to talk? I may have bragged otherwise to the Most Excellent Brothers, but I’ve never really done that kind of talking with a girl like Morning.
My (Writing) Life
I took my girls to their school skate night (yep, roller rinks are still a thing here) and got a nice bit of writing done on SUMMER OF PEACE while the kids burned some energy. I may have lost some of my ability to hear thanks to the shrieking kids during the Hokey Pokey and YMCA, but overall—despite the evening ending in tears when my little one dropped her hoop right away during the hoola-hoop competition—it was a good night.
I’m trying to get some work done today before I start another long weekend at the hotel. Hopefully it will be pretty tame and I’ll have an opportunity to write during some down time.
In other news, I binged season 2 of Outlander over the past 3 days. Now I’m going through a bit of withdrawl. Never have I wished more for the Starz channel!
Anyone have big plans for the weekend? Or are you lame like me and spending it at work?
"I'm sorry," he said, slowly untying the ribbon that held his mask in place. "It's just-I didn't want you to think of me any differently."
Somehow I kept my mouth from falling open. I knew his face, but my mind couldn't accept that he was the person looking down at me.
"My real name is Alec."
Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she's had the full weight of her mother's expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college.
Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned-like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he'd flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he'd turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec.
Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity's missing sister. And she's about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be...
This book sounded way too cute to resist requesting from NetGalley. Lucky for me, I was approved, and shortly thereafter dove in. Let me tell you, the story is as cute as the cover!
I was once a fangirl who dreamed of falling in love with the cute boys in the boybands I obsessed over. Lucky Felicity in this story actually gets the chance! When Alec Williams, lead singer for The Heartbreakers accidentally spills his drink on her during a charity ball, an unlikely romance and adventure begins.
Felicity likes Alec, but more important than starting a relationship, she wants to find her sister who disappeared three years ago. When she gets a lead on her sisters whereabouts, it’s Alec to the rescue, driving her and her two best friends across 3 states.
I loved the characters in this book. Felicity is very smart and driven, she doesn’t think twice about Alec’s fame and fortune. That means nothing to her. Alec is shy and quiet, nothing like she imagined from his public persona. Asha, Fel’s best friend, is the ultimate fan girl. She makes questionable choices, but her heart is in the right place. Boomer, her other bestie, is great comedic relief as well. Each character was utterly their own person and I loved them all in their own ways.
This is just an utterly feel good kinda book. The ending was very nicely done and everything came full circle.
The only negative thing I can say is that there was a portion of the book that took place with the rest of Alec’s band members and it just seemed to drag on and not move the story forward. Aside from that single scene, I loved this story and would love to read more from this series and this author!
Aaron instantly backtracked, waving his hands in defense, “Crap. I didn’t mean it like that. You have a lovely face…er…I mean, you’re really pretty.”
His eyes were breathtaking, really, and I decided that gray was my new favorite color.
Every few pages were dogeared. It drove my mom crazy when I did that. She likes to keep her novels in top condition, as if they’d never been opened, but I was of the opinion that books were made to be loved and worn.
A magnetic energy of sorts swelled between us. It was charged and electric and impossible to ignore.
It was possibly the most romantic thing a guy had ever said to me, that he wanted to read the book because it was my favorite.
“Basically you need someone to suffer alongside you?” I asked, and satisfaction shot through my chest at my witty, almost flirty response. His mouth quirked into a crooked grin. “Exactly. It will be terrible, I promise.”
“Can you give us a moment?” Then she pulled me out of earshot and hissed, “Did someone hit you over the head? There’s a fin-ass boy offering to take you on a road trip, and you can’t say no fast enough. What is wrong with you?”
“Alec, I can’t not go to Harvard.” “Sure you can,” he replied. “Your problem isn’t that you have to go. It’s that you’re afraid of not knowing what you’ll do if you don’t.”
What in the world was a Poseidon? Clearly he wasn’t talking about the Greek god, which made me wonder if Oliver’s uncle kept some sort of finicky sea monster in a backyard pond.
“Hatred takes up more space in your heart that you realize, and it doesn’t leave room for things like love and joy. Trust me.”
“Don’t worry about me,” I replied. “Never been much of a frosting fan anyway.” JJ gasped. “Told you she has no soul.”
My (Writing) Life
I’m very excited to announce that I’m THIS close to sending Peace in Flames, my YA contemporary romance, to my editor. I’m currently going through all of the feedback provided by my beta readers and cleaning things up and clarifying things I didn’t get across properly the first time.
The release isn’t until February (I’ll post the OFFICIAL date when it gets closer!) but I’m eager to finish this one so that I can move on and do the re-writes for Summer of Peace, my new adult contemporary romance in the Peace Novella Series. Then I can move on to the many OTHER projects I have planned!
Things would probably go faster if I quit getting distracted. Like that time I stopped mid-chapter to make the following teaser. haha
I (and the other Peace Series) authors would LOVE it if you’d be willing to support our Thunderclap here.
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin First Reads in exchange for an honest review.
Final Girls was a good page turning thriller that had me questioning all of the characters, including our heroine, Quincy. However, I went into this book with really high expectations, having been praised by Stephen King as “the first great thriller of 2017”, and was a little disappointed in the end.
Things I loved: The plot. I loved that Quincy couldn’t remember what happened to her the night her friends were all slaughtered. I loved the very idea of The Final Girls. I loved the depth of Quincy’s character, how she coped with the aftermath of the massacre. I really enjoyed getting to see the full story of what happened to Quincy and her friends at the cabin in pieces scattered throughout the story. It was all very solid.
Things I didn’t care for: The ending. I mean, the ending itself was pretty awesome. But I expected a bigger twist. I had a theory that would have been epic, but it didn’t happen that way. The ending is good, I see how it all tied up in the end, but I recently read Gone Girl and was expecting my mind to be blown. Unfortunately, it was not.
So, do I recommend this one? Yes, because it was an enjoyable ride, even if the ending was a little more predictable than I would have preferred.
Changing places doesn’t always help you see things differently.
Cassie throws the first punch in a brawl at Winchester Abbey Girl’s School. Her subsequent suspension is a glitch in Cassie’s master plan; Finish School/Get Job/Leave Home (and never come back). As punishment her mother banishes her to Ludlow Park, their creepy ancestral home. In the dark of a stormy night Cassie finds herself transported to 1714, the beginning of the Georgian period.
With the help of a lady’s maid and an obnoxious gentleman, Mr Charles Stafford, Cassie must unravel the mysterious illness afflicting Lord Miller. If Lord Miller kicks the bucket the house goes to Reginald Huxley, the brainless cousin from London.
Cassie’s task is to figure out who is poisoning the Lord of Ludlow without exposing herself to the ridicule of her peers, getting herself committed to the asylum or worse, married off to the first man who will have her.
Cassie must learn to hold her tongue, keep her pride in check and reign in her rebellious nature – because the fate of her entire family, for generations, rests on her shoulders.
Meanwhile, Lady Cassandra Miller frantically searches for her smelling salts or her trusted governess Miss. Blythe, whose soothing advice she would dearly love. Instead Cassandra finds some woman and a boy squatting in the Ludlow mansion; her father, her lady’s maid and all the servants have magically disappeared.
Tell-a-vision, the In-her-net, horseless carriages and women wearing pantaloons; Cassandra is afraid that she might have inhaled fowl air causing her to temporarily lose her senses.
Only when both girls can get over their pride, societal prejudices and self-importance will they be able to return to their rightful century. Until then, they are free to wreak maximum damage on their respective centuries.
Cassie Miller is not handling her parents divorce well. Her mom is a work-a-holic judge in England, and her dad moved to France.
After she’s kicked out of her boarding school, Her mom takes Cassie and her little brother to her ancestral home, Ludlow Park, for some quality family time. But that first night, after a big fight with her mom, a storm rolls in. While trying to sneak a cigarette, the power goes out, right as she’s standing by the creepy wolf mirror in the East Wing.
Suddenly Cassie finds she’s been sent back in time to 1714. Meanwhile, the Lady Cassandra Miller of 1714 finds herself in 2014.
This is an interesting story because while the main plot is that Lady Cassandra’s father is dying and Cassie has to stop that from happening in order to save her lineage. But more than that, it’s about family. Lady Cassandra’s mother is dead, and Cassie doesn’t get along with hers at all. During her time in 1714 she quickly realizes there are many times she wishes her mom was there for her.
Both girls find an ally/confidant in their new time and it’s quite interesting to watch them try to adapt.
I also praise Ms. Healy for her descriptions of 1714. She wasn’t overly descriptive, but there was enough for me to get a feel for a time long past.
The real gem of this story however, is the characters. From page one, I loved Cassie. I felt for her and I wanted her to find acceptance. Sure I didn’t approve of a lot of her life choices, but at the same time I understood her reasons for acting the way she did. I thought she was very well written.
I’d recommend this book for teen and adult readers alike who are looking for interesting, well-developed characters, a little mystery, and the magic of time travel.
Disclaimer: I do work for this publisher, and I designed the covers for this series. My rating and opinions are 100% my own. I love this series!
Welcome to Black Dog Bay, a tiny seaside town in Delaware known as “the best place in America to bounce back from your breakup.” Home to Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast, the Eat Your Heart Out bakery, and the Whinery bar, Black Dog Bay offers a haven for the suddenly single.
Flight attendant Summer Benson lives by two rules: Don’t stay with the same man for too long and never stay in one place. She’s about to break rule number one by considering accepting her boyfriend’s proposal—then disaster strikes and her world is shattered in an instant.
Summer heads to Black Dog Bay, where the locals welcome her. Even Hattie Huntington, the town’s oldest, richest, and meanest resident, likes her enough to give her a job. Then there’s Dutch Jansen, the rugged, stoic mayor, who’s the opposite of her type. She probably shouldn’t be kissing him. She definitely shouldn’t be falling in love.
After a lifetime of globe-trotting, Summer has finally found a home. But Hattie has old scores to settle and a hidden agenda for her newest employee. Summer finds herself faced with an impossible choice: Leave Black Dog Bay behind forever, or stay with the ones she loves and cost them everything…
I won a copy of this book from Goodreads with no expectation of a review.
This book is as utterly delightful as that cover. It is a laugh out loud ’till you cry, unputdownable joy of a book.
This book throws you right into the thick of the plot. To be honest, I didn’t care for the beginning. It felt rushed and Summer felt like such an over the top cariacture I didn’t think I’d like this book.
Then she arrived in Black Dog Bay. And ran over the mayors rose bushes. And blamed it on turtles and Taylor Swift. From this point on I was 100% sold on this charming rom com.
I ended up absolutely loving Summer. She has her baggage, and at times it felt like she fell for Dutch too quickly (specifically because of all that baggage!) but I can look past that. Summer is charming and brass and fearless.
I loved Dutch. He’s a great hero. He’s a sweet, no-nonsense kind of guy. I hate politicians on principal, but Beth Kendrick had me falling in love with this mayor.
The chemistry between Summer and Dutch was amazing. The little inside jokes and flirtations they had were hot, hot, HOT — especially for such a clean book!
The side characters were all so charming. I was able to quickly give them all unique voices and even imagine my dream cast for the movie playing in my head. (Kelly Bishop [aka Emily Gilmore] as either Hattie or Pauline – can’t decide which! Diane Wiest as Marla, Lennon Stella [Maddie from ‘Nashville’] as Ingrid, Leslie Mann [from ‘Knocked Up’, ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’, and ’17 Again’] as Summer—that voice of her is perfect.)
Every single chapter had me wishing I could read JUST ONE MORE, to the point where I accidentally read 50% of the book in one night. I only went to bed because my eyes refused to stay open and the words stopped making sense.
And here’s a word to the wise, don’t read this book anywhere you can’t let out a good belly laugh. Because I was holding in laughter while reading this late at night while my husband slept, and it just wasn’t the same.
I need to find out what happens next in Black Dog Bay.
If you’re in the mood for a light, comedic, romantic page turner, THIS is the book to read!
Rustic outdoorsmen weren’t Summer’s type, but something about him… He looked like he could ravish you so right and then stride off to chop a cord of wood.
“I promise you, I’m coming back to fix your landscaping situation.”
If Barbie hired Hello Kitty to decorate her dream house, the result would be the Winery.
He caught her gaze and held it, and in that moment, she saw him as everyone else in Black Dog Bay did: strong and stern and quietly authoritative. Someone who took his responsibilities seriously. Someone who was not to be trifled with.
And it only increased her desire to trifle with him.
“Can you talk sense into a bunch of adolescents sloshed on Alabama slammers?” ”Like a professional hostage negotiator.”
“Just make me look like I’m a lobotomized lady who lunches. On something other than grilled cheese.”
He took in the activity pages and the facial expressions and the iced tea before asking, very slowly, “What are you doing?”
“Connecting the dots,” Jenna said.
“Coloring a frog,” Hollis said.
“Making this word search my bitch,” Summer said.
Dutch glanced behind him. “Is this… am I missing something here?”
He made her laugh. He made her think. He made her want to stay.
Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.
At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.
Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.
Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.
The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I honestly wasn’t sure if I even wanted to read this book when I requested it from NetGalley. I’ve read quite a few YA fantasies in the past year or so and they sort of start to blur in my head. This book though? I’m so glad I read it!
Royal Bastards was a unique fantasy read for me. The dialogue is often very contemporary and comical – which I love. The overall feel is like a watered down Game of Thrones—but without the dragons, and significantly less pages.
I love that this book really emphasizes the gray areas — as in, the world isn’t just black and white, good and evil. Tilla and Jax have a conversation about whether they’re doing the “right thing” by betraying their land and their people, and what it boils down to is, there is no right thing.
I loved the characters in this book.
Tilla is the bastard daughter of the Lord of Kent, his firstborn. She spends most of her time with her stablehand half brother, Jax (same mother, different father). She’s often crass and unladylike—especially in her internal dialogue—but secretly wishes to be legitimized and fully accepted by her father.
Jax is a stablehand, built like an ox, and quite the ladies man. He’s full of inappropriate things to say. He’s loyal and funny and charming. It’s hard not to love him.
Lyriana is the princess and though at first she comes across as very boring, prim, and proper, as she begins this adventure with her newfound friends, we realize very quickly that there is much more to her than meets the eye.
Zell is a “barbaric” warrior from a land not ruled by Lyriana’s kingdom. He’s incredibly sexy, tough, and though he’s everything she shouldn’t want, Tilla finds herself trying to prove herself to him. I have a little book crush on Zell.
Miles is a wussy pain in the ass. He’s a book nerd, but not in a cool way. He’s kind of annoying, but begins to get better. He’s also completely hung up on Tilla, even though she wants nothing to do with him.
There’s danger everywhere.
Some authors are afraid to put their characters in any real mortal peril. That’s so not the case here. There were a few times where I seriously worried that someone would die. There are creepy gross monster bug things, too.
Another cool thing this book does is represent diversity. Lyriana is described as having dark skin and hair, while I believe Tilla and Jax are described as more fair. I remember, as I read her description, being pleasantly surprised that the author decided to make the ruling people dark skinned. Such a nice change from the traditional choice of making dark skinned people either slaves or evil! I imagine the Zitochi (Zell’s people) as ancient Asian warriors, like Ghengis Khan. I could be completely off base with that though. I don’t always remember exactly how characters are described and instead come up with my own visualizations in my head.
The pacing of this book was excellent. There were no dull points in the plot and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.
There’s also a really cool magic system that has its own twists in the story as well.
And finally, THE FEELS.
That’s right, this book had me full of feels. I was rooting for some things to happen, almost in tears over other things that happened. A book that makes me feel and/or really think like this one did, is a book that’s going to STAY with me.
So, should you read this? YES. A loud and resounding yes. At this point in time, this is my top read of 2017 so far. I may even go out and actually purchase a hard copy to have on my shelf to re-read in the future and to have my daughters read (when they’re old enough – this is definitely an upper YA book with the language, violence, and insinuated—not graphic in the least—sexual content.)
Royal Bastards is on sale May 30, 2017, but you can preorder at the following sites:
(NOTE: Quotes are from an advanced release copy of the book and MAY be changed in the final printing.)
(NOTE 2: There are a lot of quotes here. This book is SO quotable, I couldn’t trim my favorites down anymore!)
“I was…um…” I scrambled for a plausible excuse. Bathing? I was too dry. Riding? I was too clean. Studying? No one would ever believe that.
You know that awkward silence where someone has committed a horrible social blunder, but no one knows how to react, so everyone is just staring at their feet? Imagine that, but in a hall with two hundred people.
The message was clear. Bow to the King or die by the Ring.
Lyriana Volaris, Princess of Noveris, was genuinely excited to sit with a bunch of bastards. That was just about the craziest thing I could thing of, on a day that was already feeling pretty crazy.
Jay shrugged. “I mean, Whitesand Beach is the perfect place to bring a girl if you’re looking to get laid.” Lyriana gasped. “Or…so I’ve heard some guys say. I, uh, wouldn’t know anything about that.”
I let out an amused snort. Zell just shook his head.
“Jax,” I said softly, “I’m so sorry…”
He glanced at me, one eyebrow cocked, the same sweet, goofy brother I’d loved my whole life. “Shut your face, sis,” he said, and walked off toward the outcropping.
I hadn’t paid much attention to my etiquette lessons, but I was pretty sure there wasn’t a standard expression for Sorry my dad killed your uncle.
I blinked. “You don’t know how to put on pants.”
“I’ve never had to. No woman in Lightspire would!”
Training with Zell that day consisted of him honing my reflexes by having me attempt to catch rocks. Mostly I just got hit with rocks.
With a particularly mushy smack, the orifice in the center of the starling’s head puckered open, drooling a yellowish gunk that sizzled against the stone. Four spindly tendrils shot out.
Holy shit. We’d been so focused on our disguises and backstories, we’d completely forgotten about money. We had to be the dumbest fugitives who’d ever lived.
My mind had been resisting what my body had wanted, but I’d been through way too much hell to give it that power anymore. He held me close and I pressed in closer, and damn if this didn’t just feel so, so right.
“Holy frozen hell,” Jax said. What happened to you guys?”
I was starting to think that Miles’s mom was a huge bitch, but that wasn’t really the point.