Catch Up Reviews: Finishing Out 2016

Catching up on all the books I haven’t made time to review recently. I’ve decided to only focus on books I enjoyed and feel are worth mentioning.


29087466Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

There’s a first time for everything.

Lark Wainwright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he’s good for much more than farm labor.

I really hope this isn’t the final book in the series. I absolutely LOVE this series, and every book is just as good (or better) than the one before it. I’m so glad I finally picked up a Sarina Bowen book this year and that it was this series.

5 STARS

 

30063292 Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she’s given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn’t expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife’s death looming, he’s isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn’t appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

Sarah Morgan has become my go-to for a perfect Christmas read. So perfectly romantic, it was my favorite holiday book of the season. And now I want to go back and read more of the books in this series soon. 

5 STARS

 

29472542 All in Pieces by Suzanne Young

“Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own; a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself, except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.

I don’t read enough YA novels, even though I do enjoy them. This book was getting a lot of praise from fellow bloggers, so I decided to try it. I’m so glad I did! It was fantastic and definitely one the best YA novels I have read. I’ll be keeping my eye out for future books by this author.

4 STARS

 

29432729 Beautiful by Christina Lauren

A FREE-SPIRITED GIRL IN NEED OF A BREAK.
A MAN WEIGHED DOWN BY RESPONSIBILITY.
A ROAD TRIP VACATION WHERE ALL BETS ARE OFF.
OH, AND A LOT OF WINE.

After walking in on her boyfriend shagging another girl in their place, Pippa Bay Cox ditches London for the States to go on a drunken road trip with Ruby Miller and some of her Beautiful friends.

Scaling the career ladder is the default way to deal with heartbreak—and to just deal—for Jensen Bergstrom. Absolutely buried by his drive and workload, he rarely takes time for himself. But when his sister Hanna convinces him to join the gang on a two-week wine tour, he has a rare moment of cutting loose. Of course, it’s only once he’s committed that he realizes the strange girl he met briefly on the plane is coming along, too. She might be too much for him…or he might realize his life has become too small and needs her to make it bigger, crazier.

With this circle of friends there’s always something going on: from Chloe and Sara’s unexpected personality swaps to Will’s new domestic side to Bennett’s text message barrage and George’s own happily-ever-after. In short, their adventures in love, friendship, and hilarity are nothing short of Beautiful.

But I don’t want this series to end! It’s one of my absolute favorites. I have loved every one of these characters and am sad to say goodbye to them. I loved that this book took a group of the friends on a wine tour. WINE, people!!! And they vacationed in a secluded cabin (MY DREAM!). I laughed out loud many times while reading this book. And oh how I loved Jensen (swoon) and Pippa (hilarious and bad ass). Not to mention cameos by everyone else in this awesome group of friends. And those epilogues were perfect. Although I’m sad it’s over – it was the perfect way to end the series.

4.5 STARS

 

30213116 Always by Sarah Jio

While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle’s chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can’t believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for theHerald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt “right.” But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants.

Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she’s willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

I love Sarah Jio’s books and look forward to her book releases every year. This wasn’t my favorite of her books, but I still enjoyed it. I believe timing is everything, and I think I just picked this one up and forced myself to read it at the wrong time. The story is good, and I do recommend it along with any of her other books.

3.5 STARS

{Review} Illuminae

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about the book

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

My Thoughts

Rarely do I finish a book and immediately feel the need to write a review about it. And rarely do I pick up a book that’s close to 600 pages and devour it in 2 days. I don’t even read science fiction very often. But I bought this book on a whim Friday, because I was craving something different to read, something that would blow me away. Well, MIND BLOWN.

This book was so completely different from anything I’ve ever read, but I absolutely loved every minute of it. I loved how the story was told in emails, reports and documents. It was incredibly suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I read it. I couldn’t get enough, and I hated when it ended, it was that good! There is just so much to love about this book. The banter, the suspense, the badass heroine, her swoony boyfriend, even the freaking computer database controlling everything won my heart.

This book just proves that once in awhile you have to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. There are so many fantastic things about this book, and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to try it, even after many of my friends raved about it.

This kick ass book definitely goes on my favorites list. And I’m anxious to get a copy of Gemina now. This was the best book to start off the new year!

Bottom Line

Freaking fantastic. Even if you’re not a fan of sci-fi or even young adult, I still highly recommend you pick up this book!

5 Stars

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance

Series Standalone

Published October 20, 2015 by Knopf Books

Length: 599 pages

{Review} Tell Me Three Things

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About the book

 Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

My Thoughts

I rarely read YA. It’s a genre that I have to be in the mood for, and the mood doesn’t strike that often. I’m a big fan of this authors Adult Contemporary books, so I decided to give this one a try. And man am I SO glad I did. This book is fantastic. Unique with an exceptional cast of characters, it pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go. I loved the mystery of SN, and even though I had an idea who it was, it didn’t take away from the story at all. This was one of the best YA books I’ve ever read – I urge you to go get a copy right now!

Bottom Line

This debut YA novel will win your heart – a definite must read!

5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

Standalone

Published April 5th 2016 by Delacorte Press

Length: 336 Pages

 

{Review} Salt to the Sea

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Goodreads / Amazon

About the book

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in one another tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view, and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Erik Larson’s #1 NYT bestseller Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein’s Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloffthe greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.

My Thoughts

I have only recently started enjoying historical fiction more, especially novels set during WWII. I’ve heard great things about this author, and was so anxious to read this book that I preordered it. Although it was incredibly heartbreaking and sad, this book was worth every penny. I loved how the author wrote each chapter from a different characters POV, and that each chapter was really short – making it impossible to put the book down.

Nothing breaks my heart more than reading about WWII. The tragic events that took place during that time is so hard to stomach. Reading this book was not easy as far as emotions go – the horrors people faced during the war were  so very awful. My heart broke several times while reading this book, but there was also proof of the goodness in humanity throughout the story. The hope of love prevailing over all of the sadness and horror is what kept me reading.

Bottom Line

An emotional and tragic story sure to make a long lasting impression.

5 Stars

Genre: Young Adult, Historical

Standalone

Published: February 2, 2016 by Philomel Books

Length: 400 Pages