Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith @JenESmith

Oh! Cute! Cute! Cute!. Jennifer E. Smith has done it again with The Geography of You and Me.

Lucy and Owen both live in a high rise apartment building in New York City. Lucy with her parents in a luxury apartment, and Owen with his father in the basement. Owen's father is the superintendent of the building. Lucy and Owen get stuck in the elevator when New York experiences a blackout, and a friendship is born.

Their lives take them very far apart from each other. They both move away, but keep in touch sporadically, mostly via post cards. So the question is, Why do they keep thinking about each other? Is there something there? Is this more than a friendship? How are you supposed to figure that out when you are halfway around the world from each other?

I think what I love most about Smith's books is that they aren't sappy. They aren't overly dramatized. These kids aren't homeless or drug addicts or physically or mentally challenged. They are just somewhat normal kids, living normal lives, and the romance aspect has this slow burn quality that I love.

At the end, you aren't even sure if these two will be together forever, much the way I've felt about all Smith's books. At the end, your are at the beginning of what is a cute, heartwarming romance.

Smith's books all have the same kind of rhythm, but I will read every one she writes. I'm not getting tired of her, like I have some authors whose books all seem too much alike.

If you want a cute, teen romance book that will make you feel good, then read The Geography of You and Me. And if you haven't, you need to read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and This is What Happy Looks Like. Then you need to make sure you keep track of when Smith's next one is being released! My students will eat this one up, just like they have the other two.

Published by Poppy, April 15, 2014
Purchased copy
337 pages

Rating: 5/5





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Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Review: World After by Susan Ee @Susan_Ee

World After was just as good as the first book, Angelfall. Again, it was unputdownable!

The bad angels are at it again. Penryn has found both her sister and her mother, but their togetherness is short-lived. She once again must hunt for them, and in the process puts herself in a lot of danger and also finds out the motivations for the angels' evil actions. And they are even more evil in World After.

She also hopes to find Raffe and show him that she's not dead. Aw, come on. You know you hope so too! And, they do find each other and help each other to "save the day!" There's a little luck involved too, but this story is so much fun we can overlook that.

I don't want to go into much detail, but if you enjoyed Angelfall this is just more of that same great world and great story. You will never think of angels the same way! If you haven't read Angelfall you should start there. This series is exciting, fast-paced, heartbreaking and scary. You're gonna love it.

Published by Skyscape, 2013
Purchased eBook
320 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5





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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Stacking the Shelves

I only grabbed one book (I already have several) off the library shelves this week.

From the Library:
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I hope you got some good stuff this week. Please leave me a link in the comments, so I can check out your haul. Also, make sure you visit Team Tynga's Reviews to see all the participants. Thanks for stopping by.





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Friday, July 25, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday: Favorite TV Series

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
Happy Friday! Here's today's featured question:

What is your favorite tv series that you can watch over and over again on Netflix?


Well, I have to talk about two series. First, I have watched The West Wing several times. I'm not sure you can even still get it on Netflix (it's pretty old) but I loved every minute of that series.

And, secondly, I could watch Downton Abbey over and over. Such a great show. I have a feeling this one might be a popular answer today.

Hope you have a great weekend. Please visit Parajunkee and Alison to see all the great answers to this fun question. Thanks for stopping by.





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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: Conjured, by Sarah Beth Durst

Conjured wins the prize for the most unique premise of any book I've ever read. I love that. When you read as much as I do, an uncommon book is appreciated.

Eve is being brought to her new home at the beginning of the story. Malcolm, who she is obviously familiar with, and Aunt Nicki, who she doesn't know or trust, are her companions. Eve doesn't remember anything about her past. Not only that, but she doesn't know anything about the world. Like how to undo her seat belt, or what pizza is. Malcolm has been trying to teach her these things for several months.

Eve has visions. After these visions, she blacks out. She doesn't know if the visions are true or just dreams. She knows she's in a witness protection program and that she's had painful surgeries to change the way she looks. The magical killer is still after her. She meets some other kids in the program, but doesn't know whether to trust them or not. They all have weird magical abilities too. Malcolm and Nicki are trying to get Eve to remember what happened during these brutal murders so she can testify.

They get Eve a job as a page at the library, and she meets another page named Zach. Eve and Zach eventually become romantically involved and Zach learns some of Eve's secrets.

There is a lot more to Conjured, but it's best left for you to discover. Conjured is very confusing at times because Eve is confused, and we are hearing the story through her. So we discover all the weirdness right along with Eve.

And Conjured does get weird. About the last 100 pages get very strange and very magical. I really didn't like how steeped in fantasy the resolution turned out to be, but once again, it's really unique. I'm not a huge high fantasy fan, so the otherworldly parts seemed like somewhat of a cop out to me.

If you like books with a lot of unique magic and quite a bit of suspense at the end, you will enjoy Conjured. Just realize that the confusion is all part of the experience.

Published by Walker, 2013
Purchased copy
358  pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 3.5/5





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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: Fast Track, by Julie Garwood

I've never read a book by Julie Garwood before, and Fast Track was an entertaining introduction to her writing.

When Cordelia's father is on his deathbed he tells Cordelia that her mother, who supposedly died when Cordelia was a baby, is still alive. Cordelia decides to find her mother to see why she just gave up on Cordelia and her father.

Her quest takes her to the upper echelons of Australia. Her mother is very wealthy and has a whole new family.

Cordelia's adventure is helped by her two life-time best friends and the brother of one of them, Aiden, who owns hotels all around the world. Cordelia used to have a crush on Aiden -- or does she still?

The romance is very slow burning and doesn't take over the story, but it's still exciting. Cordelia's discoveries about her family also put her in danger, which ramps up the suspense factor.

So Fast Track has romance, danger, friendship, and a lot more to keep your interest. Fast Track is an adult book, and contains some pretty explicit sex scenes, so be warned if recommending this to teens.  It's all very well paced and easy to read. Fast Track doesn't really break any new ground, and it probably won't be one of those books that sticks with me forever, but I really enjoyed my time, and I would recommend it to fans of adventure/romance books.

Published by Dutton Adult, July 29, 2014
eARC obtained from NetGalley
352 pages

Rating: 3.5/5





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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Review: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, by Morgan Matson @morgan_m

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour is a heartwarming road-trip book that I'm glad I spent some time with.

Amy's father died three months ago, her brother is in rehab after going over the edge, her mother has decided to move them from California to Connecticut, and Amy is feeling very guilty.

Amy has been living alone in her California home for a month while she finishes school. Pretty sad situation for someone who has recently lost her father. (I can't believe her mother did that!) Amy had something to do with the accident that killed her father, that much is obvious, but we don't find out the details until towards the end of the book. But, you kind of figure it out before that. Amy definitely needs counseling, but there's never any mention of this. :(

Since the accident, Amy doesn't drive. Her mother needs her car to be driven to Connecticut, so she gets her friend's son (Roger) to drive him and Amy across the country. Amy's mom has everything planned out and reservations made. It's going to take them four days to make the trip.

No....it's not. Amy & Roger decide to take a detour -- well, maybe quite a few detours. In the process, Amy heals a bit. Also, Roger has an ulterior motive for the trip, which he also accomplishes. And there's the expected romance.

But I hate to even call this book a romance. That doesn't really happen until the last 30 pages. I mean, talk about SLOOOOOW building...this is the antithesis of "instalove."

There's so much more to Amy & Roger's Epic Detour than the relationship between Amy & Roger. There's music, a scrapbook, 20 questions, experiencing landmarks and local foods, friendships, and a lot of healing.

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour is a tingly feel-good book that teen girls will really enjoy. (And they have.  My library copy is very well read.)

Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2010
Copy obtained from the library
344 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review: Belle Epoque, by Elizabeth Ross

Belle Epoque is the story of a girl, Maude, in the late 1800s who escapes her father and moves to Paris. She gets one of the most unusual jobs you will ever hear of. Belle Epoque is historical fiction at its finest.

First of all, the title. Here's the explanation of Belle Epoque from Wikipedia:

The Belle Époque or La Belle Époque (French for "Beautiful Era") was a period in French and Belgian history that is conventionally dated as starting in 1871 and ending when World War I began in 1914. Occurring during the era of the Third French Republic (beginning 1870), it was a period characterized by optimism, peace at home and in Europe, new technology and scientific discoveries. The peace and prosperity in Paris allowed the arts to flourish, and many masterpieces of literature, music, theater, and visual art gained recognition. The Belle Époque was named, in retrospect, when it began to be considered a "golden age" in contrast to the horrors of World War I.

I found that pretty interesting.  Anyway, Maude's father was going to make her marry the 40-something-year-old butcher from their village, so she ran away to Pairs. She answers the add for a job, but doesn't understand what she's getting into. It turns out, she's applying (or auditioning) for a job as a repoussoir. They are looking for ugly women who will be hired by Paris' finest and richest people to accompany them to events to make them look more beautiful. The idea being that if you put someone who is only average looking next to someone who is plain or ugly, the average looking person looks beautiful next to the ugly person.

While the idea of this job is abhorrent, the pay is good and meals, clothing, lodging, and training are provided, so Maude really has no choice. She makes some friends and maybe even a romantic interest. She is hired by one of the agency's most important clients, Countess Dubern, to be a friend to her daughter, Isabel. Isabel is going through her first "season" and her mother is determined Isabel will bag a very rich man, preferably with a title.

Isabel has no idea that Maude has been hired by her mother. She also has no interest in getting married. Maude has her work cut out for her, and eventually things blow up.

Belle Epoque has a subtle message about the meaning of beauty. Whether beauty really is only skin deep. Whether money is worth more than happiness. Lots of things to think about...and issues that are still very relevant today.

Belle Epoque is written very well, the characters are engaging, and the pacing is tight. It's a relatively quick read that captured my attention easily. Anyone who is a fan of historical fiction will find a lot here. The Eiffel Tower is being built, and photography is becoming available to the common man. Because of the relative prosperity of the time period, art, culture, and technology were all center stage. Ross uses all these events to enhance Belle Epoque.

Something for everyone here.

Published by Delacorte BFYR, 2013
eBook obtained from the library
250 pages (Amazon and Barnes & Noble say 336 pages, but I'm using the page numbers from my eBook)

Rating: 5/5





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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stacking the Shelves -- A Trip to the Book Store

This week's main event was a trip to the book store. But first, a couple books received for review.

For Review:
The Summoning Book 1: Mary, by Hillary Monahan from NetGalley

Killer Instinct, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes from NetGalley

Purchased:
The Geography of You and Me, by Jennifer E. Smith

Conjured, by Sarah Beth Durst

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne

That's all for me this week. How about you? Leave me a link! Thanks for visiting and make sure you hop over to Team Tynga's Reviews.




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