Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Second Star: Review

Second Star
Second Star by Alyssa B Sheinmel
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publishing Date: May 13, 2014
Visit the author's website HERE
Goodreads Summary:
A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Preorder it from Amazon for $8.89 today (4/28/14)

My Thoughts:
I'm not sure what to say about this one, friends. I had read some bad reviews prior to starting the book and so forged ahead with little expectations. Whether that was helpful or harmful, I have yet to determine.

The idea of the book is that Wendy Darling is looking for her twin brothers, John and Michael, who, obsessed with surfing, disappeared one day. Police are certain they died after finding their broken surfboards on the beach, but Wendy doesn't believe it. She sets out to find them on her own. Her journey leads her to an abandoned house full of lost kids who love to surf. Instantly she is attracted to the 'leader' of the group Pete, makes out with him, only to find out later he is dating Belle. Just up the beach cliffs is Pete's ex-best friend Jas, who sells a wickedly addictive drug called fairy dust. Wendy stays with the kids in the abandoned house, learning to surf and trying to gain the acceptance of the others. Along the way there is surfing, drug taking, surfing, and pure craziness.

I really struggled with Wendy's character. She was a self-professed straight-A student who had never broken a rule or told a lie. Yet along the course of the story we find her easily smoking cigarettes, breaking into houses, swigging beer, and even popping some fairy dust. All with barely a second thought. I couldn't wrap my mind around that. Why was I supposed to believe Wendy was such a good kid?? She was distrustful, and rash, and sort of bland. I couldn't understand her attraction to Pete beyond the fact that he was hot and the original Peter Pan fairy tale indicated that they should be. Her attraction to the dark, stoic, handsome, BUT STILL a drug seller, Jas was almost just as weird.

I am NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY SPOILERS, but.......the ending. It felt rushed, confusing, and completely lacking some good detail. I was totally on Wendy's 'side', wondering how it was all going to go 'that way'. Only to find out otherwise, maybe?? --->All of that will only make sense if you read this book all the way to the very end.

Since I can't give away an spoilers, I feel like I can't completely share why I was so disappointed in this book. It was good enough while reading to not feel the need to DNF it, but after finishing I wondered where the author had just taken me. What was the point of that journey? The original Peter Pan ended as if the Darlings' time in Never Never Land was just a dream, but at least along the way we got some good story and some good morals. In "Second Star" we aren't given story, or morals, or a point to the journey we just completed. It was a nice attempt, but I think it just fell totally flat. I'm giving "Second Star"  1.5 Stars and recommend it to those who are also obsessed with surfing and don't mind taking a journey that may be enjoyable, but pointless.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Buying Old Skool Style

The other day I went to Barnes and Noble (just me! a miracle!!) and I bought a book in a way I've affectionately started calling ''old skool style''. I put away all TBR lists and just wandered around aimlessly. I had no idea where to start and it felt weird, confusing, and freeing all at the same time. I wandered, coffee in hand, until I ran across a gorgeous, intriguing cover. I picked it up, read the back cover, and discovered it was a series. I found its slightly less cute predecessor next to it on the shelf. The back cover spoke to me of princes, royalty, love and God. And I was hooked! I'm really nothing but a fairy tale lover inside :) 

And you know what?

It was the best book I've read in a long while! I read it in two days and can't wait to go back for that original eye-catching #2

It has been so long since I just wandered a bookstore, not looking for anything in particular. I wasn't feeling (self-induced) pressure to buy a certain book because it is the 'latest, and greatest'. My experience turned out great...this time. But I know there has been other times where my plan may have failed. Not every book is equal.

But here is my question for you: when was the last time you threw your TBR list to the wind? When was the last time you just picked up an interesting book and just read it?? We are book bloggers, but we will become jaded and tired if we don't feed ourselves with books just for fun! 

So, make room on that reading schedule! Put off that new ARC just one more day, and read something refreshing and fun. Just for you :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Summer on the Short Bus Book Blast

Welcome to the Official Book Blast for SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS by Bethany Crandell!

Short Bus Cover (1)
Summer on the Short Bus
by Bethany Crandell


Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids

Spoiled, Versace-clad Cricket Montgomery has seventeen years of pampering under her belt. So when her father decides to ship her off to a summer camp for disabled teens to help her learn some accountability, Cricket resigns herself to three weeks of handicapped hell. 
Her sentence takes a bearable turn as she discovers the humor and likeability of the campers and grows close to fellow counselors. Now, if she can just convince a certain Zac Efron look-alike with amazing blue eyes that she finally realizes there's life after Gucci, this summer could turn out to be the best she's ever had.
Summer on the Short Bus is a very non-P.C., contemporary YA with a lot of attitude, tons of laughs, and a little life lesson along the way.

"Crandell creates a wonderful and relatable protagonist with Cricket but even better than that, she surrounds her with equally relatable, flawed, and real characters...This book is an absolute winner!" – Feathered Quill Book Reviews

“A novel oozing with heart and humanity.” - Ken Baker, E! News correspondent and author of Fangirl and How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love

“A hilarious and heartwarming ride.” – Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, author of How My Summer Went Up in Flames and Famous Last Words

Find it On:
B&N                  Amazon                Indiebound              Goodreads


Bethany lives in San Diego with her husband, two kiddos (one of whom is differently-abled), and a chocolate lab who has no regard for personal space. She believes that prayer solves problems and that Jake Ryan is going to show up at her door any minute now…. She is represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Services.

Facebook author page             Twitter                      Website

One Winner will get: a Signed Copy of SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS
One Winner will get a $25 Gift Card to Amazon or B&N – winners choice!
Open Internationally for the Gift Card. Book Ships in US only. Must be 13 + To enter

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Monday, April 21, 2014

The Promise Box Review

The Promise Box (Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors #2)
The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer
Publishing Date: May, 21st 2013
Publisher: Zondervan
Visit the Author's website HERE
Goodreads Summary:
Every year, young Amish men descend on the cozy little town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive “resident” status for the hunting season in the fall. They arrive as bachelors, but go home with brides!
In The Promise Box, the second book of best-selling author Tricia Goyer’s Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series, Lydia Wyse, a book editor from Seattle who grew up Amish, returns to the small community of West Kootenai to give comfort to her father after her mother’s death. She is drawn back to the familiar Amish ways after finding her mother’s most precious possession, a Promise Box of prayers and scripture. What her publisher sees, though, is an opportunity for a sensational “tell-all” book about the Amish.
Lydia soon finds herself falling in love with Amish bachelor Gideon Hooley. She wants nothing more than to forget her past and look forward to a future as an Amish bride. But will the pain of her childhood---and her potential betrayal of her community---keep her from committing her whole heart?
I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Check it out on Kindle for $7.99 today! (4/18/14)

My Thoughts:
Typically Christian Romance (C.Rom) novels follow the same story arcs: meet, attraction, resistance, a big event tears them apart, and then a happy ending. Goyer took an approach that felt more like: down, up, up, up, way down, way up, way down, way up, end! Whew! A true roller coaster! I appreciated the attempt to be different and break the mold. And Goyer is a master. She has over 35 books published, over 500 articles published in various magazines and blogs, and has won numerous awards. That sort of cred is something I can trust. She also loves the Amish, so I feel comfortable knowing she has done her research on the topic and I don't have to second guess the validity of it all.

I loved Lydia more than I loved Gideon. His character felt too emotional for me. I think it was the way that he was refusing to trust Lydia and her decisions when he really had no basis not too. Personally, I don't think he would be someone that I would be attracted to in real life. I know that won't affect the decisions of all readers, but it was a big factor for me, obviously. But I could appreciate that Goyer made his character have enough dimensions for me to consider him a real life person. Also: his parents. Boo! I didn't like them at all, and don't really want to say why for sake of giving anything away. Again, even though I disliked them, I could still appreciate the fact that Goyer was trying break the mold of everything and everyone ending 'happy-go-lucky'.

For both characters, though, I really enjoyed their spiritual journeys. Lydia's really spoke to me. She walked away from her faith and family, but was wooed back to it through the beauty of God (no, not a spoiler, it's in the summary!). However, once she comes back to her faith, there are still several points which cause her to wonder and question. I would have loved to see even more of that. Again, it was a sign to me of Goyer breaking the typical C.Rom mold: when a character becomes a Christian or comes back to God, their faith is super strong and it all works out.

I enjoyed how what I thought was going to be the climax, wasn't. There was still much more to the journey! But what I didn't like: the actual ending. After a beautiful novel of what felt like Goyer continually fighting to break a lot of C. Rom stereotypes, the ending was too cliche. Too perfect. Too fairy tale. I was bummed out by it and ended up skimming a lot of it actually.

Still, it wasn't completely cliche! It was well written and had great spiritual aspects. Perhaps it is still the genre, perhaps it is just me, but whereas "The Promise Box" was a good, adorable read, I just don't find it memorable. It is book two in a seven part series (Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors). Book three, titled the Kissing Bridge, was just released and I am still trying to get my hands on it. It is a series that I will always pick up if I come across, but probably not purchase.

I am rating it with 3.5 stars and recommend it for: fans of Goyer, fans of Amish romance, fans of Christian romance.

Check out Tricia Goyer's Memory Jar craft ideas. I'm inspired to start one of my own! Do you have anything like a memory jar or promise box??

Friday, April 18, 2014

One Realm Beyond {Review}

One Realm Beyond
One Realm Beyond by Donita K. Paul
Publisher: Zondervan
Publishing Date: January 28, 2014
Visit the author's website HERE
Goodreads Summary:
Cantor D Ahma waited his whole life for this day. Born with a gift to jump between worlds, the young realm walker is finally ready to leave his elderly mentor and accept his role as protector and defender of the realms. But mere hours after he steps through his first portal, Cantor discovers that his job will be more dangerous and difficult than he ever imagined. The realms are plagued with crime and cruelty, and even members of the once-noble Realm Walkers Guild can no longer be trusted. To make matters worse, his first assignment---finding a dragon to assist him on his quest---has led him to Bridger, who is clearly inept and won t leave him alone. With the help of his new friends Bixby and Dukmee, Cantor must uncover the secrets of the corrupt guild before they become too powerful to be stopped. But his skills aren t progressing as fast as he would like, and as he finds himself deeper and deeper in the guild s layers of deceit, Cantor struggles to determine where his true allegiance lies.

Big Fat Disaster Book Blast

Welcome to the Official Book Blast for the new Young Adult Novel BIG  FAT DISASTER by Beth Fehlbaum

BFD CoverBorder
Big Fat Disaster
By Beth Fehlbaum

Insecure, shy, and way overweight, Colby hates the limelight as much as her pageant-pretty mom and sisters love it. It's her life: Dad's a superstar, running for office on a family values platform. Then suddenly, he ditches his marriage for a younger woman and gets caught stealing money from the campaign. Everyone hates Colby for finding out and blowing the whistle on him. From a mansion, they end up in a poor relative's trailer, where her mom's contempt swells right along with Colby's supersized jeans. Then, a cruel video of Colby half-dressed, made by her cousin Ryan, finds its way onto the internet. Colby plans her own death. A tragic family accident intervenes, and Colby's role in it seems to paint her as a hero, but she's only a fraud. Finally, threatened with exposure, Colby must face facts about her selfish mother and her own shame. Harrowing and hopeful, proof that the truth that saves us can come with a fierce and terrible price, Big Fat Disaster is that rare thing, a story that is authentically new.

B&N           AMAZON         GOODREADS

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In addition to writing Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Beth Fehlbaum is an experienced English teacher who frequently draws on her experience as an educator to write her books. She has a B.A. in English, Minor in Secondary Education, and an M.Ed. in Reading. She is currently a Library Science student at Sam Houston State University.
Beth is the author of Big Fat Disaster (Merit Press/F+W Media, March 2014); Courage in Patience (Kunati Books, 2008); and Hope in Patience(WestSide Books, 2010). Hope in Patience was named a 2011 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Truth in Patience, which rounds outThe Patience Trilogy, is as yet unpublished. The Patience Trilogy has been revised and is available for acquisition!
Beth has a following in the young adult literature world and also among survivors of sexual abuse because of her work with victims’ advocacy groups. She has been the keynote speaker at the National Crime Victims’ Week Commemoration Ceremony at the Hall of State in Dallas, Texas and a presenter for Greater Texas Community Partners, where she addressed a group of social workers and foster children on the subject of “Hope”.
Beth is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, like Ashley in The Patience Trilogy, and the day-to-day manager of an eating disorder much like Colby’s in Big Fat Disaster. These life experiences give her a unique perspective, and she writes her characters’ stories in a way meant to inspire hope.
Beth lives with her family in the woods of East Texas.
You can find Beth online at http:www.bethfehlbaumbooks.comon Facebook, and on
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Audrey Bunny: Quick Review

Audrey Bunny
Audrey Bunny by Angie Smith 
Illustrated by Breezy Brookshire
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Goodreads Summary:
From best-selling women’s author Angie Smith (I Will Carry You, Mended) comes this sweet children’s book about a stuffed animal named Audrey Bunny who fears her imperfections make her unworthy of a little girl’s love. She'll learn the truth soon enough, and young readers will learn that everyone is special and wonderfully made by God.
Find this touching tale on Amazon for $10.79 today! (4/16/14)

My Thoughts:
I admit to fully loving most everything Angie Smith does. "Audrey Bunny" now tops that list. Smith wrote this children's book naming the bunny after her dear baby daughter. If you haven't heard the story, it is a must read.

The story is about a bunny who never gets bought from the toy story because she has a smudge. One day a little girl finally buys her, yet she is so embarrassed by her smudge she keeps trying to hide it from the little girl. I loved the way the story turned out. Audrey Bunny teaches a great lesson on just being you and loving all your imperfections. Every child needs to hear that lesson as probably does every parent reading the story to their child.

And it is a story that is meant to be read together. Some things aren't fully explained in the text. For example, on one page the text has the little girl asking "How did you do that?" The answer is hidden only in the picture: Audrey Bunny had moved a blanket to cover up her smudge. I think it would be best to read this story with your child, helping them find the 'clues' to the story in the picture and discussing the morals together.

The drawings are whimsy, light, and quiet, telling a lot of the story. "Audrey Bunny" is touching and heartfelt and it is something I definitely want to add to Baby Girl's library. 5 stars and an easy must-buy for all those with younger children!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Northwood: Review

Northwood by Brian Falkner
Published: April 1, 2014
Check out the author's blog HERE 
Goodreads Summary:
The dark forest of Northwood has never seen the likes of Cecilia Undergarment before …

Cecilia Undergarment likes a challenge. So when she discovers a sad and neglected dog, she is determined to rescue him. No matter what. But her daring dog rescue lands her in deep trouble. Trouble in the form of being lost in the dark forest of Northwood. A forest where ferocious black lions roam. A forest that hides a secret castle, an unlikely king and many a mystery. A forest where those who enter never return. But Cecilia is determined to find her way home. No matter what.
I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Buy a copy today for your Kindle for $7.66 (4/10/14).

My Thoughts:
Here is a book I think many readers can adore! "Northwood" is middle grade novel that is enjoyable for all ages. It is a quick, easy read with an easy vocab, short sentences, and few descriptive details. Gorgeously it includes a few pictures which help with a few of the harder to imagine elements of the book. The story is adorable, with a feeling reminiscent of "A Series of Unfortunate Events", and draws you in quickly with it's quirky world.

I loved the fairy tale elements. Our MC, Cecilia lives in a house made of balloons! Plus she can understand animals. I was already pretty jealous just after the first few chapters. As you continue to read, we discover an abandoned castle, a missing princess, a totally rude king, and a quest to get back home. 

"Northwood" has a lot of great character moments. Cecilia was the kind of character who stood up for what was right, defended others, was kind towards all animals, and was clever and brave. That's why I think it would be a great book for little girls who have loved princesses (Disney, Princess Sophia), but are growing up and may be looking for more of a challenge in their reading. I would gladly read more like this from the author, Brian Falkner. And if my daughter was older, I would be reading it with her.

As it is a book made for middle-grade readers, I do want give some warnings: there really was only one. All the scary moments included are not that scary. It helps that it was written in the third person. The forest is home to black lions around every corner. They do give chase a few times, and claws and teeth are mentioned. Shouldn't be too bad. The most 'offensive' bit was that a pistol is used, but not against any living creature. But it is brandished and used and that could cause a scary, tense moment for sensitive readers.

For older readers, it is a quick, refreshing read that will spark your imagination and capture your heart for middle grade.  An easy 4 stars. I hope this one is discovered by many fans of MG!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Life of a Blogger: Fave Foods!

A wonderful link up with Novel Heartbeat

I skipped last week :(( So the last time I linked up we were talking about our favorite animals. This week we are chatting about our FAVORITE FOOD.

Oh my goodness folks, I love to bake! I am absolutely not a professional. Sometimes I am not very good---but I blame this entirely on my oven. I have lived in my house for 2 years and I still can't figure out how to get it to cook and bake just right! So as you might imagine, I love all the sweets. I have yet to meet a chocolate that is too dark, or a chocolate dessert that is too rich. I have noticed in my old age that too much sugar is beginning to be 'too sweet'!! What's happening to me?!?! For example, Target cakes? Ugh their frosting gets to me. 

Mostly, I love cookies! I love to bake all types of new cookies and rarely bake the same recipe more than a few times, and then only when the Hubby requests it. I want to get into cupcakes more, but I know I just won't have the patience to frost them well. 

I also consider myself a cake connoisseur. I will eat your cake, and then judge you on it. Every time. When I go to weddings, it is all about the cake. For my own wedding I was willing to pull out all the stops to get the best I could find. To this day it remains my favorite cake ever. 

But besides sweets, I love Italian foods. (That's why I thought I would love this book) Give me a 5 cheese Ziti, tortellini, and a thin crust pizza and I am THERE! 

What are your favorite foods?? I can't wait to read your faves, although I better read them on a fully stomach *drools*