Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: Providence by Lisa Colozza Cocca

Providence by Lisa Colozza Cocca
March 18, 2014
Merit Press
254 pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Content: Clean
Source: Complementary copy from publisher for Honest review
Book Blurb:
The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter, trying to avoid her father's periodic violent rages. When the family's barn burns down, her father lays the blame on Becky, and her own mother tells her to run for it. Run she does, hopping into an empty freight car. There, in a duffel bag, Becky finds an abandoned baby girl, only hours old. After years of tending to her siblings, sixteen-year-old Becky knows just what a baby needs. This baby needs a mother. With no mother around, Becky decides, at least temporarily, this baby needs her. When Becky hops off the train in a small Georgia town, it's with baby "Georgia" in her arms. When she meets Rosie, an eccentric thrift-shop owner, who comes to value and love Becky as no one ever has, Becky rashly claims the baby as her own. Not everyone in town is as welcoming as Rosie, though. Many suspect Becky and her baby are not what they seem. Among the doubters is a beautiful, reclusive woman with her own terrible loss and a long history with Rosie. As Becky's life becomes entangled with the lives of the people in town, including a handsome boy who suspects Becky is hiding something from her past, she finds her secrets more difficult to keep. Becky should grab the baby and run, but her newfound home and job with Rosie have given Becky the family she's never known. Despite her guilt over leaving her mother alone, she is happy for the first time. But it's a happiness not meant to last. When the truth comes out, Becky has the biggest decision of her life to make. Should she run away again? Should she stay--and fight? Or lie? What does the future hold for Becky and Georgia? With a greatness of heart and a stubborn insistence on hope found in few novels of any genre, "Providence" proves that home is where you find it, love is an active verb, and family is more than just a word.
My Review:

Reading Providence was like taking a stroll down a country road. Enjoying the beauty all around. Not knowing what is around the corner, but looking forward to the surprise and the adventure. I felt like I was walking amongst friends, neither in a rush to get ahead nor wanting to stay behind, but simply wanting to enjoy every moment I could with them on our journey. Walking in Becky's shoes felt just like that.

Becky is a sweet, country girl, in incredibly sad circumstances, who not only is without a home, but has stumbled upon an abandoned baby, bonding the two of them instantly. To most this would be a daunting predicament, but to Becky, she simply forges ahead. No matter what happens, Becky is a fighter, determined to make the most of anything that comes her way, not wanting to be a burden on anyone. Her journey, discovering not only new friends, but finding the strength of who she is, and the value of her worth.

Becky also meets some wonderful people, creating her own family along the way. Rosie is a true gem, and won my heart. John is subtle but sweet, and I only wish there was more of him. There are others who will test your perceptions of them, but they all serve a purpose. And the story grows and blooms and culminates into a touching, heartfelt ending, shining with a beautiful message. It's also a nice, clean YA story, which was refreshing.

More dialogue, particularly on Becky's part, would have made this story even better for me. We get a lot of Becky's thoughts, but don't quite get enough of her verbal interactions with people, and for me that limited her personality. It needed stronger showing, less telling. This stilted some of the character interactions, and hindered the minor romance. A bit more to the ending, perhaps an epilogue, would have also been great.

But overall, I enjoyed this sweet story, and its change of pace. And it's refreshing to read a YA book I'm comfortable recommending to my friend's daughter.

3-1/2 to 4 STARS

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (52) & Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

What I Read:
Gabby Revealed by Amy Gregory
Bunsen Burner Bingo by Penny Reid
Wall of Trust by AJ Prior
John Dreamer by Elise Celine

Audiobook I'm Listening To:
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon 

Reviews I Posted:
My Life From Hell by Tellulah Darling (my review)
Gabby Revealed by Amy Gregory (my review)
STSmall_thumb[2][2]Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
Paperback Purchases:
Archer's Voice (A Sign of Love, #4) Maybe Someday 
The Sea of Tranquility Soul Screamers, Volume Four: With All My Soul • Fearless • Niederwald • Last Request
Archer's Voice by Mia Sheridan
Maybe Someday
by Colleen Hoover (my review)
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay (my review)
Soul Screamers: Volume 4 by Rachel Vincent

eBook Wins from Better Read Than Dead:
Truce: The Historic Neighbor from Hell (Neighbor from Hell, #4) Fearless (Ruin, #2.5)
Truce by RL Mathewson
Fearless by Rachel Van Dyken

Paperback Win from LibraryThing:
Four Years Later (One Week Girlfriend Quartet, #4)
Four Years Later by Monica Murphy
eARCs for Review:
See Jane Fall (Heart of Montana, #3) Played (Hooked, #2) The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1)
See Jane Fall by Katy Regnery
Played by Liz Fichera
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
For My Kindle:
Black Box Poughkeepsie (Poughkeepsie Brotherhood, #1) Seeing Stars (Celebrity, #1)
Breakaway Wall of Trust Reclaiming the Sand
Black Box by Cassia Leo
Poughkeepsie by Debra Anastasia
Seeing Stars by J Sterling
Breakaway: New Adult Anthology
Wall of Trust by AJ Prior
Reclaiming the Sand by A. Meredith Walters
Used Book Finds:
Trouble Consequences (Consequences, #1) 
Harbinger Passion (Fallen, #3)
Trouble by Samantha Towle
Consequences by Aleatha Romig

Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne
Passion by Lauren Kate
Audiobook Purchase:
Brilliance by Marcus Sakey  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Review, Giveaway, Tour: Gabby Revealed by Amy Gregory

Gabby Revealed - Finding Perfect #2
Gabby Revealed by Amy Gregory
Finding Perfect #2
March 25, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
(Contains: strong language, sex)
Source: Complementary copy from publisher for Honest review
Cover Design: The Killion Group, Inc.
Event Organized By: Literati Author Services, Inc.

Book Blurb:
Gabby James didn’t have the idyllic childhood many in her little hometown of Renlend, Kansas had. High school was a living hell, but when she graduated she couldn’t bring herself to leave Renlend. The town was her prison, but her family’s bookstore, The Looking Glass, was her one true love. It was the place she could run to, and escape the prying eyes of the ones who taunted her.
Shane Compton was a literary agent in one of the most prestigious publishing houses in New York City. He found no greater rush than finding the next big talent, someone who could take the written word and turn it into an art form. In the span of one rude phone call Shane was drawn into the mystery of just who the fiery new author from Kansas was. When everyone else in the office refused to deal with her, Shane willingly accepted the challenge. There was no logic to the madness, but every time he had contact with her, she drove him wild.

Gabby tried every trick in the book to keep Shane at arm’s length, but he had made good on his promise to come to Kansas. He wanted to pull her out of anonymity, he wanted her in the public eye. Now here he stood, on the sidewalk in front her bookstore, and one look told her he was everything she was afraid he’d be. Too bad she was anything but who he thought she was.

Gabby quickly discovers Shane has more on his mind than just books and with a little help from an ornery matchmaker, he shows her a whole new life through her looking glass.

My Review:
From Amy Gregory's previous books, I have fallen in love with her characters, and Gabby Revealed (GR) is no exception. We met Gabby in Mike's Way Back (MWB), but GR can be read as a standalone. We very briefly see Mike and his gal from the previous book, so no fear of spoilers if you want to read MYB after GR. And I loved Mike's Way Back, so I'd recommend going back to that one if you like Gabby Revealed.
As far as Gabby goes, I loved getting to know her in this small town setting. The pain of her high school years, the walls she built up, her passion for writing, her love and care for John, and then the breaking down of her walls by Shane. I could feel Gabby's mix of emotions from the pages from all she endured, but also the hope and love that started to bloom within her.  She's such a mix of a character, and I liked both her brash and her sweet sides. Then there's Shane, Mr. New York, who is a wonderful addition to book heroes. It's so refreshing to read about a guy like Shane. He's thoughtful, sincere, smart, persistent, and hasn't let the difficulties of his past ruin his future. He's the perfect match for Gabby. And I loved their banter, interactions, and chemistry. And don't forget John, the sweetie pie who will wriggle right into your heart.
The story itself is well done, weaving together Gabby and Shane's unique relationship with external factors affecting their lives. Gabby, in particular, must undergo not only the healing of her past, but grief in her present. But the whole story blends together really well, and there is not extraneous subject matter. It is a wonderful story, right down to the perfect ending. If anything, I would have liked just a bit more, because I liked  getting to know them so much. I also would have liked to see more of Mike from the previous book, because I loved Gregory's previous books (Racing to Love series) that created such a great family feel and I was hoping to find that again here. But I still thoroughly enjoyed Gabby Revealed and the story I had difficulty putting down. We also get a peek at the characters for book 3, and I'm looking forward to their story.

Book Trailer:

 Finding Perfect Series:
Book Links:
Mike's Way Back #1
Gabby Revealed #2

About the Author
When asked ‘when do you have time to write’, Amy Gregory simply laughs. The real answer is, “in bits and pieces”. She and her husband live in Kansas City with their three fantastic kids that keep them running in three very different directions. Because she sits so much, she always carries a notebook with her at all times. She has an off the wall, snarky, off the cuff sense of humor that often shocks even those who’ve known her for years. And she loves that her children have all been blessed that ability to make others laugh as well. At least she’s grateful most of the time! Her husband often teases her about how she “makes this stuff up” when he’s reading a piece of her work. … The answer—“it just comes to me when I’m typing”. Scary thought, huh!

Connect with Amy: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (25): Dangerous Creatures

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

I really enjoyed the Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. My husband also enjoyed them, so in my book that's definitely a win-win. Lincoln and Ridley were such amazing secondary characters in that series; I'm truly looking forward to reading where Garcia and Stohl take them in this spin-off series.

Dangerous Creatures
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Expected publication date: May 20, 2014

Dangerous Creatures (Dangerous Creatures, #1)

Book Blurb:
A new series returns to the world of Beautiful Creatures. Some loves are cursed...others are dangerous.

Ridley Duchannes will be the first to tell you that she's a bad girl. She's Dark. She's a Siren. You can never trust her, or even yourself when she's around. Lucky for her, Wesley "Link" Lincoln can never seem to remember that; quarter Incubus or not, his heart is Mortal when it comes to Ridley. When Link heads to New York City to start a music career, Ridley goes along for the ride-and she has her own reasons. As if leaving small-town Gatlin for the big city, trying to form a band, and surviving life with a partially reformed Siren isn't hard enough already, Link soon learns he has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay.

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthors of Beautiful Creatures, are back and casting another magical spell. Their signature mixture of mystery, suspense, and romance, along with a dash of fun and danger, will pull fans in and leave them begging for more.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review: My Life From Hell by Tellulah Darling

My Life From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #3)
My Life From Hell by Tellulah Darling
The Blooming Goddess Trilogy: Book 3
March 20, 2014
Te Da Media
279 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Romance
(Contains: some strong language)
Source: Complementary copy from publisher for Honest review

Book Blurb:
To say that Sophie Bloom is at the top of her game with one only week until spring equinox and the final showdown with Zeus and Hades would be, well, lying. The Goddess of Spring feels more like the Goddess of Bzz Thanks For Playing than the savior of humanity. And could her relationships be any more messed up?

Good times.

Sophie is convinced that things can’t get any worse than crawling back to her mother Demeter and begging for help. But she’s about to find out how very wrong she is.

It’s a race against time for Sophie to implement the big battle strategy in the YA romantic comedy/Greek mythology finale My Life From Hell. Love meets comedy with a whole lot of sass in book three of this teen fantasy romance series. Save herself; save the world. Humanity may be screwed.
My Review:
What a terrific end to this trilogy! Watching Sophie bloom (pun intended) into not only the goddess she was destined to be, but the human she grew to be and love and accept, was fantastic. The road for Sophie was not easy in the least. Boy did I feel for the girl! Talk about kicking a puppy when she's down! She just got tossed things at her left and right, but through it all she held her own. And she not only held it together, but she was funny and real and totally put it all out there. I loved her!
This book is action-packed! There was never a dull moment. And it wasn't just filler. The plot progressed and moved; the storyline built and expanded; the intensity fortified. Of course, we know the spring equinox is coming and Sophie and Kai have a huge task ahead of them, but that is just one piece to all the crazy things that happen in this book. There is just layer built upon layer, going in directions I didn't expect. Tellulah truly created a fantastic, gripping read here.
While Sophie certainly grew the most, our other characters were not ignored. We learn more about Festos, more about Theo, and meet some great newbies as well. Hannah and Pierce are there to represent, and of course Zeus, Hades, and Demeter get in on the action. And all these individuals surround Sophie in different ways, giving the story so much fullness and dimension and... awesomeness. Oh, and then there's this guy named Kai. Remember him? Yeah, he's back, even after the crazy end of book 2. Even Mr. Underworld gets revealed a bit more, and he too must grow and become more than he ever was pre-Sophie. And I loved how he learned and loved. The character development was wonderful.

Overall, this was a fantastic read and the perfect ending to a great trilogy. I think this was the best book of the trilogy. And it was the best representative of the young adult genre as well. The first two had more mature elements scattered throughout them, making me want to up their level to new adult at times. But this one was wonderfully YA. I will miss this series and these characters, but I look forward to more books by Tellulah Darling.

The Blooming Goddess Trilogy:
My Ex From Hell #1 - My Review / Amazon
My Date From Hell #2 - My Review / Amazon
A Date of Godlike Proportions #2.5 - Amazon (free)
My Life From Hell #3 - My Review / Amazon

Monday, March 24, 2014

Giveaway! Book Blast & Excerpts from the Devoured Series by Shelly Crane

I am a huge Shelly Crane fan, particularly her paranormal series, and that includes the Devoured series. I'm so excited that there will be a third book in the series. If you haven't had a chance to check out this series, I definitely recommend them. The first two, Devour and Consume, are terrific, and I look forward to getting my grabby hands on Altered!

Altered by Shelly Crane
Devoured series: Book 3
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Cover Designer: Regina at MaeIDesign
Event Organized By: Literati Author Services, Inc.

~ Synopsis ~
Enoch is tested.
His brother is human, the thing he hates. He watches as the brother he knew is stripped away by his love for Clara. He's never hated someone as much as he hated her...but the bond forced him to not only want to protect her, but feel things he never had before.
When a girl needs his help, that split second decision changes his whole world in one instant. A Devourer's Fate...


Excerpt One

“It’s cold,” I lied. It was cold, but that was absolutely not the reason for the goose flesh. He knew it and I knew it. And I hated it. I didn’t like for people to get under my skin. It made me feel too vulnerable, like they had power over me. When they had power, they could hurt you, leave you, die and leave you destroyed. I wasn't up for any more of that. Except for Clara; she was already attached to me and I owed it to her.
He looked over. Even in the dark with barely any light being provided from the streetlamps, I could see his purple eyes searching mine. “Just help me and then you never have to see me again.”
It was almost like he could tell what I’d been thinking about.
Excerpt Two 
I fed on her terror and fright and it tasted like heaven in my mouth. But as I looked down at that woman who had just given herself to me, and I hadn’t even had to persuade her to, it washed over me all at once how I didn’t really want to hurt her. That I wanted to hurt people, but not her. Not really. I had gotten everything I needed from her without doing that, hadn’t I? I was full and sated. Now I was just letting my true nature take over, letting the Devourer in me take over.
But wasn’t that what I was supposed to do? I looked down at that woman and was so confused. I cursed Clara and Eli and all their love and human bullcrap for turning me into the thing that I was now.
No. I realized then that this was my turning point. That if I let this girl go, that I would be just like my brother one day and that wasn’t what I wanted. I was not going to be some human. I was a Devourer. My chin ached from clenching it so tightly. I turned my glare fully on her and knew that honestly it wasn’t her fault, but she was about to pay the price for my brother’s mistake.
“I’m sorry, love.” I lifted her by her arms and then leaned into her, pressing her to the wall.
“For what?” her small voice asked, falsely reassured by my about-face. “What are you doing to me?”
“I’m sorry that our night is just beginning.”
She seemed to understand and her face crumpled. “Please. I’m sorry for whatever I said to—”
“It’s not you,” I grinned as evilly as I could muster, “it’s me.”


~ Devour (Devoured #1) Synopsis ~
Clara has it all. A wrestling star boyfriend, popular friends, all the right school activities...pretty much a perfect life...up until her parents died. Now she lives with the Pastor and his family and though they take good care of her, she feels alone. Then her boyfriend, Tate, starts to show signs of trouble when a new guy, Eli, comes to town. Clara is fascinated with him but hides it until something happens. Eli confesses to her that she gives him something he's never had before...something he needs. Everything is about to change for this normal pretty popular girl in a supernatural way.         
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
~ Consume (Devoured #2) Synopsis ~
Eli and Clara's story continues as she tries to finish high school. Eli is as over protective as ever and Tate and his group of friends are no help. They wait for the Horde, always looking over their shoulder. But the ever annoying but strangely prophetic bird begins to become more of a chatter box and Eli learns something that could change some things. Not just for him and Clara, but Devourers everywhere.
Then an unexpectedness guest comes forcing Eli to flee with Clara, leaving her temporary family behind. She is thrown into his world of underground 'traitors' and learns much of his past. They meet many new people and creatures along the way to freedom. But when tragedy strikes the two, will Clara see the monster in Eli? Can she handle his strange world and awful past? Will one of them lose their life forever...
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes 

~ About the Author ~

Shelly is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author from a small town in Georgia and loves everything about the south. She is wife to a fantastical husband and stay at home mom to two boisterous and mischievous boys who keep her on her toes. They currently reside in scorching North Florida. She loves to spend time with her family, binge on candy corn, go out to eat at new restaurants, buy paperbacks at little bookstores, sight-see in the new areas they travel to, listen to music everywhere and also LOVES to read.
Her own books happen by accident and she revels in the writing and imagination process. She doesn't go anywhere without her notepad for fear of an idea creeping up and not being able to write it down immediately, even in the middle of the night, when her best ideas are born.
Connect with the Author: 


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (51) & Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

What I Read:
Tattoo by Cambria Hebert
Providence by Lisa Colozza Cocca
My Life From Hell by Tellulah Darling

Audiobooks I'm Listening To:
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Reviews I Posted:
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover (my review)
Tattoo by Cambria Hebert (my review)
STSmall_thumb[2][2]Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

I attended the Authors Under the Lights book signing this weekend. There were lots of great authors there. I was most excited to get to meet Penny Reid. I am a huge fan of her work, but have found that I also love her personality. We had such a lovely chat! Is it too much to wish she lived closer?
I also got to meet CD Reiss and pick her brain over all the dynamics of her books following the Drazens. I'm quite impressed by how she keeps everything straight.
I also got to see Renee Carlino again. She's not only super sweet, but is also a great writer. Fun fact: Renee was my kids' education facilitator at our charter school last year.
Signed Paperback Purchases:
Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City, #1) Friends Without Benefits (Knitting in the City, #2) Love Hacked (Knitting in the City, #3) 
  Sweet Little Thing (Sweet Thing, #1.5) Sing (Songs of Submission, #7) Spin (Songs of Corruption, #1)
Marking Time (The Immortal Descendants, #1) Against the Wall (Against the Wall, #1) Not Quite Enough (Not Quite, #3)
Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid (my review)
Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid (my review)
Love Hacked by Penny Reid (my review)
Sweet Little Thing by Renee Carlino
Sing by CD Reiss
Spin by CD Reiss (my review)
Marking Time by April White
Against the Wall by Julie Prestsater
Not Quite Enough by Catherine Bybee