Wednesday, June 26, 2013

(Mother/Son) Book Review: Data Runner

Data Runner
Data Runner by Sam A. Patel
June 25, 2013
Diversion Books
231 pages
Genre: Young Adult/Middle School
Source: NetGalley for honest review
Book Blurb:
In the not-too-distant future, in what was once the old City of New York, megacorporations have taken over everything. Now even the internet is owned, and the only way to transmit sensitive information is by a network of highly skilled couriers called “data runners” who run it over the sneakernet. It is a dangerous gig in a dirty world, but Jack Nill doesn’t have much choice in the matter. A brilliant young math whiz and champion of parkour, Jack must become one of these data runners in order to get his father out of a major gambling debt. But when a mysterious stranger loads Jack’s chip with a cryptic cargo that everybody wants, he soon becomes the key figure in a conspiracy that could affect the entire North American Alliance. Now it’s all up to Jack. With the help of his best friend, Dexter, and a girl who runs under the name Red Tail, Jack will have to use all his skills to outrun the retrievers and uncover the truth before they catch him and clip him for good.
My Review:

I admit I'm probably not the target audience for this book. I got it because I thought my teenage son would like it and I wanted to read something alongside him. I admit in the beginning, there was so much new information - new cities and corporations, lots of techy and Parkour jargon to take in - that I was worried it would either overwhelm me or bore me. I started highlighting passages hoping I'd remember everything. But once I decided to just get the gist and not get bogged down by all the technical details, I really started to appreciate this book. And my advice is to not get overwhelmed in the beginning. As time goes on, if you're like me, you'll pick up more and more on Jack's world. But it is still a lot of information to take in.

This is definitely a plot-driven, action adventure. There is a steady increase in action and pacing until you suddenly get to the point where you don't want to put it down because there seems to always be something coming around the corner. I must compliment Patel on his ability to integrate providing the reader with new information in the midst of potentially dire situations. He was able to find a good balance between the two, furthering the action but keeping the reader up to speed on the big picture and overall plot. Plus this futuristic world he created was really fascinating and not unreasonable, making the whole story more realistic. And I'll say that whatever situation Jack found himself in, I really looked forward to how Patel was going to get him out of it. It felt like Jack was running until the very end, and I felt like I was right there alongside him.

There is also a great mix of characters. I normally love great character development in a book, and while I enjoyed the characters here, I would not say this book is necessarily great at developing the depths of its characters. Jack was a great narrator, observing things like an overly bright, far advanced for his years, 17-year-old at times, and at other times just like a normal kid his own age. His passion for Parkour was clear, and I really loved how Patel brings that love to the reader, making us respect the Parkour philosophy as well. The other characters brought their own life to the story, and we get a bit of background on each of them to make them interesting and see their importance to the story and to Jack, but I would still have liked to know more about them.

Bottomline: This is a great plot-driven, action-packed adventure; light on character development. It's a bit "techy" at times, and the reader will be tempted into confusion, but even if you don't understand every single detail, the overall picture is very intriguing. The actual "data running" and Parkour elements are exciting and a welcome integration into this genre. This is the first book of a series, but we are not left with a huge cliffhanger, more of an idea of what might be happening with Jack in the next book, which I look forward to reading.


My Son's Review (13 y/o):

My first impression when I started Data Runner was that I wasn't going to be into it. In the beginning it was hard to understand what Jack was doing because the technical words were confusing until I got more into the book. After I figured out what Jack did with his life and where he lived, I got more into the story. I really liked the Parkour parts of the story and those were not confusing. I liked that he did Parkour as part of his data running. I really liked when he jumped on a moving train. I also liked the Brentwood Dragons - how and where they trained, their sayings, and their friendships. I also found the plot interesting and how it was laid out. Once I was towards the middle of the book, it was hard for me to stop reading. There was a lot of action and a lot of stuff happening and it made me want to keep reading. I felt the characters were very plain and not a lot was revealed about them. The ending was very surprising. I didn't expect things to happen the way they did. But it was still very exciting to read and makes me want to read the next book. I didn't like all the bad words.

Bad Word Count:
Ass = 9 times
Bastard = 1 time
B--ch = 1 time
Crap = 5 times
Damn/Damning = 11 times

3 1/2 STARS

Book Links:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top Ten (14): Book Read So Far in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
For more information and a list of past and future topics, go here.
Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2013
(in alphabetical order by author)
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (review)
Recalled by Cambria Hebert (review)
Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins
This Girl by Colleen Hoover (review)
600 Hours of Edward (review) and
Edward Adrift  (review) by Craig Lancaster
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)  Recalled (Death Escorts, #1)  Sweet Peril (The Sweet Trilogy, #2)
This Girl (Slammed, #3)  600 Hours of Edward  Edward Adrift
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (review)
The Host by Stephenie Meyer (review)
Find You in the Dark (review) and
Light in the Shadows (review) by A. Meredith Walters
Wounded by Jasinda Wilder (review)
To Kill a Mockingbird  The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, #3)  The Host (The Host, #1)
Find You in the Dark (Find You in the Dark, #1)  Light in the Shadows (Find You in the Dark, #2)  Wounded

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Review: Black Heart by R.L. Mathewson

Black Heart (Cursed Hearts, #1)
Black Heart by R.L. Mathewson
(Book 1 of Cursed Hearts)
June 22, 2013
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Contains: sexual situations, mature language
Source: eARC from author for honest review
Book Blurb:
There was something seriously wrong with Marty. That was the only explanation that she could come up with. Why else would she feel this way for the biggest SOB in town? Granted, he was also the hottest man in town, but he was also arrogant, callous, and determined to drive her away even as he drove her crazy with his touch. She should just walk away from him and probably would if it wasn’t for this connection that she’d always had with him that kept making her want more with the one man that couldn’t give her anything more than heartache.

He should have left and never looked back when he’d decided to finally do the right thing and push Marty out of his life, but instead he stuck around to torture himself by staying close to the one woman that he could never allow himself to have. She deserved better than him, better than the tortured existence that he led and better than the horrifying future that waited for him.

My Review:

Walking into this story, I did not read the blurb ahead of time, so I had no idea what the story was going to be about. I just knew I heard RLM was writing a new series, and being a big fan of her Pyte/Sentinel and Neighbors From Hell series, knew that I had to read this one too. And let me say, RLM has done it again. I loved this first book and am so excited about the start of this amazing new series.

As for the prologue, I loved that we had one. If you read the author's note before the book, you'll get her background to the story (which I love that she included) and why she included the prologue. For me, the prologue gave the story an added element that I liked, and am very glad she put it in the book.

As for the storyline, every time I thought I knew what was coming up and felt like things were starting to plateau, RLM would throw something in there that I did not see coming. I loved that she created a story including elements of her style from previous books that I loved of hers, but also took this story to its own unique place. She combined a crazy romance between two people who loved and antagonized each other, paranormal elements that kept me guessing, and writing that combined humor and seriousness. I'd say more but I really don't want to give any plot details away. I loved discovering it for myself, and I hope you do too.

As for the characters, RLM knows how to create a frustrating, strangle-worthy, yet loving, swoon-worthy alpha male. Tristan is no exception. Add in Marty, our heroine who is smart and driven, can love unconditionally, but can stand up for herself and go toe-to-toe with the best of them, and you've got a couple who are fun (or frustrating) to watch in any situation. I completely bought into their relationship and felt on edge any time things weren't going the way I wanted them to go. Without giving anything away, let's just say this is a couple you will be rooting for.

As for the secondary characters, that is the cherry on top of this sundae. Both Tristan and Marty have great and quirky families, and I loved them. Their little interactions sprinkled throughout the book are a terrific addition. Then we meet more mysterious characters later (that I will not spoil), who add both seriousness and humor, and bring the story to a whole new level. Seriously, I like all these characters already, and I can already tell they are going to be fabulous throughout the entire series. I cannot wait to read more!

Bottomline: I'm very excited about this new series of RLM's. It combines all of the elements I like: humor, drama, paranormal, mystery, love, suspense, and great characters. There are 8 (or 9) books planned, but no major cliffhangers (yay!). We get a glimpse of what the next book will follow toward the end, and I'm already itching for it. If you are already an R.L. Mathewson fan, then this is a series you are sure to love. If you are an R.L. Mathewson newbie, I definitely recommend you dive right into the Cursed Hearts series.

Book Links:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Review: Spies and Prejudice

Spies and Prejudice
Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance
June 11, 2013
Egmont (Publisher)
304 pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley for honest review
Book Blurb:
Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.
My Review:

Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite novels, so I love to read a unique retelling. Spies and Prejudice was certainly unique and enjoyable. Talia Vance was able to combine private investigating, corporate spies, high school antics, a nod to Austen, intriguing mystery, and interesting characters. This is an exciting, mysterious, and action-filled adventure that entertained me, kept my attention, and kept my pages flipping until the end. I really wanted to know how Vance was going to pull it all together, solve this mysterious circumstance I'd been drawn into, and most importantly (for me) fix the romantic couples. I also loved the names used - Strawberry Fields and Mary Chris Moss - hilarious. When tackling the retelling of a classic that numerous others have already retold, it is hard to do something truly unique, and I appreciated Vance's attempt. This was a quick, fun, and engaging read.

There were a few things that didn't work for me. Berry's immediate dislike of Tanner felt forced and unjustified. Honestly, I didn't really like her much to start with, whereas I loved Elizabeth in P&P. Berry eventually grew on me, but it was a slow relationship between the two of us. Tanner I liked more, though his actions toward the end were not as chivalrous as I would have liked. Oddly enough, I liked the secondary characters more than the main characters. The story up until around the halfway mark felt more realistic, but around the halfway point it started getting a bit far-fetched. Now, that did make it interesting, but it made buying into everything more difficult. The end also had a few loose ends for me that were not tied up well enough. I had unanswered questions, making the ending feel incomplete. I don't know if there is a sequel planned or not.

3-1/2 STARS

Book Links:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review: Clockwork Princess

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
(Book 3 in The Infernal Devices trilogy)
March 19, 2013
568 pages
McElderry Books
Source: Personal purchase
Genre: Young Adult
Goodreads Summary:
Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

My Review:

I've been sitting on this review since I finished reading this book the week it came out. I wish I could say in all this time I've been composing the most brilliant review known to the man. I'd hoped that I would have by this point, but, well, not so much. The reality is that my words will be nothing compared to the beauty and amazingness of this book by Cassandra Clare. I was already a fan of Clare before this. I love her books. But Clockwork Princess is by far my favorite Cassandra Clare book to date. I absolutely LOVED it!!!

I cannot express enough praise for this book. I spent days tearing up about scenes in the book that truly moved me in so many ways. There is a certain beauty with relationships that Clare was able to convey. This is no ordinary love triangle. I hate love triangles. But the love between Will and Jem and Tess was beyond anything I've ever read or experienced. Thinking about them now I want to cry all over again. And I did cry big ugly tears while reading this book. I love these characters. I love their love for each other. And not just Will and Jem and Tess, but all the beautiful characters that Clare created. I loved loved loved them!!

Now this book is not without it's own action sequences and Mortmain dealings and resolution. There are wild situations and tragedies along the way. And Clare was able to bring the reader action and a moving plotline along with absolutely amazing character development. But for me, one of the things that makes this book so exceptional is the love between Will and Jem. I've always loved the story of David and Jonathan from the Bible. I loved the way this was used to inspire Parabatai. Will and Jem are the perfect epitome of Parabatai brotherly love, and honestly I cared more about their story than I did Tess.

And the Epilogue!! Absolute perfection!! I cried my eyes out. It was beautiful and amazing and moved me into a gushy mess. I'm so glad my family was in bed so they didn't have to witness the drippy, snuffly blob I became. They were happy and sad tears. But perfectly satisfied tears. Clare set the bar on what a perfect epilogue should look like. She should teach epilogue writing courses.

Bottomline: This was the perfect ending to an amazing series.


Here's a link where Cassandra Clare discusses the epilogue, and the Will/Jem/Tess love. I recommend reading this AFTER reading the book because of spoilers. But I highly recommend reading it. Clare expressed herself so well.

Book Links:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (15): Anguish

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
by Lila Felix
Publication Date: June 11, 2013



My voice has been compared to a meth-laden prairie dog, a hamster caught in a wheel and King Adrock from the Beastie Boys. The latter of which I kinda liked. Who doesn't love King Adrock?
(location 177/kindle)

Book Blurb:
Anguish was the status quo, until she walked in. 
Breaker James Collins is confined in a prison of his own making. Scarred doesn’t begin to define his hell since finding out his girlfriend had cheated, stolen, and lied two years ago. It led to a single event—one that would blacken his days and his nights from then on. Since then, he hasn’t left his house, crippled by fear of people and any social interaction. 
Ashland talks too much and has the voice of a meth-laden prairie dog, or so she’s always been told. She’s been called annoying and irritating all of her life and gave up on having friends for a long time. College has given her a new lease on a social life and she’s embraced who she is. But now she’s waiting for the one guy who can take her breath away and put up with her antics.  
A simple note pinned to a corkboard will lead Ash right to Breaker’s solitary world and she will learn that just because a guy doesn’t fit her ideal, doesn’t mean she won’t fall head over feet in love.

Book Links:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Novella Review: Secondary Characters

Secondary Characters
Secondary Characters by Rachel Schieffelbein
May 25, 2013
Swoon Romance
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Personal Purchase
Book Blurb:

When Mabel's best friend, Amber, drags her along on a double date she finds herself falling for Lance, the obnoxious class clown whom she swore she'd have no interest in. The only problem is, she's not sure if she's really the girl Lance is into, or if, like every other guy she knows, it's really Amber he's after. One thing is clear, if Mabel wants to be the lead in her own love story, she needs to start acting like it.

My Review:

Ever wonder what the best friends of the beautiful, popular people feel like? Well, this is an adorable story addressing just that. Secondary Characters is about Mabel and Lance, the best friends of Amber and the other guy (seriously, I can't remember his name because the author did such a great job getting me to focus on his friend Lance), who seem to live their lives in the shadows of their more popular best friends. Mabel is forced to go on a double date with Lance the class clown, so Amber can go on a date with the other guy. But what starts with Mabel being adamantly against cutie Lance, we get to see her uncover feelings that weren't there to begin with. Both have their own insecurities and fears that they hide behind, as well as clueless best friends who are used to things revolving around them, so we watch along with them to see if they are ever able to get off the sidelines and make their own story happen.

I really enjoyed this sweet, adorable story. It was just what I was looking for and did not disappoint. I really liked Mabel and Lance's characters. Whether they were dealing with past hurts, insecurities, miscommunications, or impending romance, they always felt honest and genuine. I was rooting for them the entire time. If you are looking for a sweet, quick read, full of wonderful characters and an adorable romance, then look no further. Great debut from Rachel Schieffelbein!


Book Links:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Book Tour, Review & Giveaway: Jet by Jay Crownover

Jet (Marked Men, #2)
Jet by Jay Crownover
(A Marked Men Novel #2) 
May 28, 2013
400 pages
Genre: New Adult 
Contains sexual situations, mature language, alcohol
Event organized by: Literati Literature Lovers 
Book Synopsis:

With his tight leather pants and a sharp edge that makes him dangerous, Jet Keller is every girl’s rock and roll fantasy. But Ayden Cross is done walking on the wild side with bad boys. She doesn’t want to give in to the heat she sees in Jet’s dark, haunted eyes. She’s afraid of getting burned from the sparks of their spontaneous combustion, even as his touch sets her on fire.

Jet can’t resist the Southern Belle with mile-long legs in cowboy boots who defies his every expectation. Yet the closer he feels to Ayden, the less he seems to know her. While he’s tempted to get under her skin and undo her in every way, he knows firsthand what happens to two people with very different ideas about relationships.

Will the blaze burn into an enduring love. . . or will it consume their dreams and turn them to ashes?

My Review:
You can find my review for Rule, book one of the Marked Men series, here.
Once again, Jay Crownover has scored a hit with me. I love all these "marked men" and this wonderful group of friends. I also want to go on the record and say that my husband and I are completely tattoo-free, and I only have a few ear piercings. So you do not have to be "marked" yourself to enjoy and appreciate these guys and gals and their relationships with each other. This is a series I will continue to follow and most certainly enjoy.
As for Jet and Ayden, I found the development of their relationship and their characters really honest and engaging. They'd both been holding back, but the chemistry (lots of chemistry) couldn't be denied. Ayden was not ready for her secrets to come out completely, however, but secrets have a way of invading your life despite you wanting to ignore them. Jet also had his own secrets, but he was more willing to give them up. But both of them had their own fears and hesitancies, which made them a great couple to understand each other... if they could ever get over their hang-ups in the first place. And while this book is certainly angsty and full of emotion, it also has a great flow and is completely engaging. I didn't want to put it down.
I loved watching Jet and Ayden fall in love, even when they didn't know it was happening themselves. I liked how the author integrated their families (good and bad... well, mostly bad) into the storyline, giving us the present situations as well as a glimpse into the past. I also loved how the other characters were used throughout the book. Even though Jet and Ayden are our primary characters, this is truly an ensemble cast and I feel invested in all of their lives. Every person is multi-dimensional, and I think that is very important in creating a realistic and endearing story. And the ending was perfect!


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Book Purchase Links:
 Amazon US  *  Amazon UK  *  Amazon CA 
Note:  UK and Australia:  Jet’s release date has been moved to June 20th
Barnes & Noble  *  ITunes  *  Kobo 
About the Author:
Jay Crownover is the bestselling author of Rule. Like the characters in her Marked Men series, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters and that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.
Social Media Links:


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Book Review: Edward Adrift

Edward Adrift
Edward Adrift by Craig Lancaster
April 9, 2013
Amazon Publishing
307 pages
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Source: NetGalley for honest review
Book Blurb:
It’s been a year of upheaval for Edward Stanton, a forty-two-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s lost his job. His trusted therapist has retired. His best friends have moved away. And even his nightly ritual of watching Dragnet reruns has been disrupted. All of this change has left Edward, who lives his life on a rigid schedule, completely flummoxed. 
But when his friend Donna calls with news that her son Kyle is in trouble, Edward leaves his comfort zone in Billings, Montana, and drives to visit them in Boise, where he discovers Kyle has morphed from a sweet kid into a sullen adolescent. Inspired by dreams of the past, Edward goes against his routine and decides to drive to a small town in Colorado where he once spent a summer with his father—bringing Kyle along as his road trip companion. The two argue about football and music along the way, and amid their misadventures, they meet an eccentric motel owner who just might be the love of Edward’s sheltered life—if only he can let her.
Endearing and laugh-out-loud funny, Edward Adrift is author Craig Lancaster’s sequel to 600 Hours of Edward.
My Review:

Find my 5 Star review for 600 Hours of Edward here.

In this superbly written sequel to 600 Hours of Edward, Craig Lancaster has once again captured my heart following another humorous, touching, and endearing journey with Edward Stanton. It's three years since 600 Hours of Edward, and Edward, our hero with Asperger's syndrome and OCD, is not having a good year. He's lost his job, his best friends have moved away, his health has declined, his therapist has retired, and he's out of his routine. Now he has embarked on a road trip to see Kyle who is in trouble, and this journey ends up holding not only answers for Kyle, but Edward as well.

What I love about this book and Edward's journey is that once again Craig Lancaster has captured all the humanity of Edward. Despite the many challenges Edward must face, he continues to be the unique, kind-hearted, honest, and genuine guy I loved in the first book. Yet here, he grows beyond who he was, yet still remains true to himself. We experience so much along with Edward: his tears and trepidation, his courage and compassion, his honesty and honor, his love and laughter. I cannot say enough good things about Edward Stanton. And once again we have a lovely cast of secondary characters, each with their own unique relationship with Edward, who added so much to the journey.

Bottomline: Edward Adrift is an absolute gem of a book, and the perfect follow-up to 600 Hours of Edward. Once again, Craig Lancaster has captured the endearing and unique spirit of Edward Stanton and taken us on a journey of self-discovery and shared humanity. I laughed, I cried, and I rooted for Edward. I highly recommend this sequel.


Book Links:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review: 600 Hours of Edward

600 Hours of Edward
600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster
October 23, 2009
Amazon Encore repub: August 14, 2012
336 pages
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Source: Amazon Prime
Book Blurb:
A thirty-nine-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, Edward Stanton lives alone on a rigid schedule in the Montana town where he grew up. His carefully constructed routine includes tracking his most common waking time (7:38 a.m.), refusing to start his therapy sessions even a minute before the appointed hour (10:00 a.m.), and watching one episode of the 1960s cop show Dragnet each night (10:00 p.m.).

But when a single mother and her nine-year-old son move in across the street, Edward’s timetable comes undone. Over the course of a momentous 600 hours, he opens up to his new neighbors and confronts old grievances with his estranged parents. Exposed to both the joys and heartaches of friendship, Edward must ultimately decide whether to embrace the world outside his door or retreat to his solitary ways.

Heartfelt and hilarious, this moving novel will appeal to fans of Daniel Keyes’s classic Flowers for Algernon and to any reader who loves an underdog.
My Review:

I don't know exactly how to express how wonderful this book is. Truly, this story is a gift and Edward, our protagonist, is a character you will quickly love. I'd heard about this book from an author whom I respect, so I knew this was a book I wanted to read. What I didn't expect was such an amazing, unique, heartfelt, funny, and touching story.

As the book blurb states, Edward is a 39 year old man who lives with Asperger's Syndrome and OCD. He lives a life of routine that you quickly understand. The chapters of the book follow the days of the "600 hours" that change his life. I loved reading each day. There is some repetition, as Edward is a numbers man, lives by facts, and tracks multiple things in his life and schedule. But this consistency really demonstrates how Edward thinks. But more than that, the small and big changes Edward makes can also be easily tracked as we notice how things affect his routine. The "Letters of Complaint" were one of my favorite things about his routine and I loved watching his growth through them, and the humor within them.

Edward's life is interrupted by his new neighbors entering his life. This is one of the catalysts for the many changes and situations Edward faces and has to treat with new perspective. This journey through this time period in Edward's life was written quite perfectly. I found myself laughing frequently, smiling genuinely, clutching my heart in hope, and tearing up through the hurt and love. And the way the author interweaves the other characters throughout Edward's life made the story complete - Kyle with his innocence, Donna with her compassion, Dr. Buckley with her wisdom, Joy with her quirkiness, Ted with his stubbornness, and even Joe Friday from Dragnet's humanity.

Bottomline: I can't say enough good things about this book. This is a true gem and I highly recommend it to everyone. The journey was amazing and the ending was beautiful. I look forward to reading Edward Adrift, the next step in Edward's journey.


Book Links:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Review: Being Henry David

Being Henry David
Being Henry David by Cal Armistead
March 1, 2013
Albert Whitman Teen (Publisher)
320 pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley for honest review 
Book Blurb:
Seventeen-year-old "Hank" has found himself at Penn Station in New York City with no memory of anything --who he is, where he came from, why he's running away. His only possession is a worn copy of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. And so he becomes Henry David-or "Hank" and takes first to the streets, and then to the only destination he can think of--Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Cal Armistead's remarkable debut novel is about a teen in search of himself. Hank begins to piece together recollections from his past. The only way Hank can discover his present is to face up to the realities of his grievous memories. He must come to terms with the tragedy of his past, to stop running, and to find his way home.
My Review:

The story we embark upon starts with "Hank" awaking at Penn Station with no memory of who he is and only the clothes he's wearing and a copy of Walden by his side. But he has this intuition that something is wrong and he's not ready to turn himself into the police as a missing person, which would obviously be the fastest way for him to figure out who he is. Instead he names himself Henry David, gets nicknamed as "Hank" by one of the interesting characters he meets, and starts this journey of discovery, meeting some good and bad characters along the way.

This journey also interweaves Thoreau's words of insight from Walden. Not being well-versed in all things Henry David Thoreau, I wasn't sure how well I would do with this book. I thought the way the author intermixed Walden was very creative and used in a very pertinent manner considering the circumstances that Hank faced, and really added a whole extra layer to the story that I really enjoyed. Despite never having read Walden myself, I never felt lost or disconnected from the story.

I also really enjoyed the "mystery" aspect of this story. I felt like I was right there with Hank trying to figure out who he was and why his memories were being blocked. I didn't expect this book to grip me the way it did, but I really wanted to know how things turned out for Hank and what really happened to him. I also loved how he had to grow in his character, beyond just finding out about himself, but who he wanted to be. He befriended others who helped him, and who he helped. The intermixing with secondary characters was well done, though I would have even liked more depth to them. I had a particular soft spot for Thomas.

Bottomline: This book went above my expectations and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed not only the writing style and the characters, but the storytelling itself. This is a wonderful journey of self-discovery, seeking the truth, finding forgiveness, and embracing the future, whatever it may hold. The ending was touching, heartfelt, and realistic. A great debut by Cal Armistead.


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Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Review: Undeniably Yours

Undeniably Yours (A Porter Family, #1)
Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade
May 1, 2013
Bethany House Publishers
380 pages
Genre: Christian Romance
Source: NeGalley for honest review
Book Blurb:
When Meg Cole’s father dies unexpectedly, she becomes the majority shareholder of his oil company and the single inheritor of his fortune. Though Meg is soft-spoken and tenderhearted–more interested in art than in oil–she’s forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of her father’s empire. 
The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father’s thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down. 
Bo’s determined to resent the woman who’s decided to rob him of his dream. But instead of anger, Meg evokes within him a profound desire to protect. The more time he spends with her, the more he longs to overcome every obstacle that separates them–her wealth, his unworthiness, her family’s outrage–and earn the right to love her. 
But just when Meg begins to realize that Bo might be the one thing on the ranch worth keeping, their fragile bond is viciously broken by a force from Meg’s past. Can their love–and their belief that God can work through every circumstance–survive?

My Review:

I really enjoyed reading Undeniably Yours. I was expecting a simple, sweet romance book, and I got so much more. When we first meet Meg and Bo - Meg in the process of trying to fire Bo - we're immediately drawn into the difficulty of their situation. Meg has just inherited millions after her father's death, including her father's Thoroughbred racehorse farm, which is managed by Bo. What could have been immediate animosity instead became a wonderful journey.

What I loved was how the author slowly but steadily reveals the depths of Meg and Bo's characters, and how despite the reality that they appear as opposites on paper, the way their friendship develops shows just how good they are together; that is, if they are able to overcome both themselves and the surroundings that are against them. Meg has been hurt in the past and has understandable trust issues; plus she is wealthy now and has to scrutinize the honesty with which people treat her. Bo is as honorable as they come, but has to hold in his feelings and not cross the line with Meg as his employer.

Beyond having to deal with her feelings toward Bo, Meg really has to deal with her feelings about herself, about her purpose, and about her future. She has been thrust into her father's business, but it's not where she wants to be. But how can she get out of it? Should she get out of it? What does she want to do with her life? Meg wrestles with a lot, but I loved how she dealt with it and prayed through it with God. I really appreciate how the author allowed us to see Meg's process.

Meg doesn't just have to deal with potential romance. There are other crazy plotlines happening and drama thrown in that give the story just the extra bump up it needs to be an absolute page-turner. Of course I didn't love the creepy "bad" guy or frustrating family, but they really pulled the story together into so much more. Outside of a slight lull in the middle of the book, I felt completely entranced in the story and invested in the outcome. There was also such a great mix of secondary characters that really helped pull everything together.
I was also hesitant on how the author would honor Christian principles in the romance department, and was afraid that she would step outside the boundaries or walk a thin line. Fortunately, I got romance in just the right dosage. Meg and Bo's feelings felt honest in regard to both their emotional and physical attraction toward one another, but didn't cross into territory that I felt was inappropriate. I really enjoyed watching their feelings develop and the respect they had for one another, as well as their genuine attraction. I couldn't help but root for them.

Bottomline: This is a great Christian romance that displays a beautiful love story about overcoming odds and expectations and finding your place. I loved Meg and Bo. And luckily this is the first book in a series about the Porter siblings, and I look forward to the rest of this series, and more books by this author.

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