Thursday, April 30, 2015

Reading Challenge Update- April

Unfortunately, my reading funk transitioned into April.  I only read a total of 8 books in April, which is about half of what I normally read in a given month.  I can blame the fact that Spring is finally here, right?

The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

I added 8 books to my Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge.  I'm about 40% done with this challenge.  If I keep up this pace, I'll be done with this challenge around the end of September.

Liars Inc. by Paula Stokes

Eden West by Pete Hautman

The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

How was April for you reading wise?  Read anything interesting?  Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Published by Grand Central Publishing on April 7, 2015

Summary: "American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he's fated to become.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she's sacrificed for love- her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself- will have been for nothing." --From Goodreads

I truly enjoyed this book.  I loved the way the story jumped in time a bit.  I also appreciated Bex's humor throughout the book, but especially when she and Nick start dating.  The lines that were drawn between Bex and Kate Middleton were especially apparent toward the middle of the story when Nick couldn't commit.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who is slightly obsessed with the royals.  

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my local library.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hold Me by Susan Mallery

Hold Me by Susan Mallery
Fools Gold #16
Published by HQN Books on April 28, 2015

Summary: "Destiny Mills believes passion has its place—like in the lyrics of the country songs that made her parents famous. After a childhood full of drama and heartache, she wants a life that's calm. Safe. Everything that Kipling Gilmore isn't. Her temporary assignment with the Fool's Gold search and rescue team puts her in delicious proximity to the former world-class skier every day. Part of her aches to let go for once…the rest is terrified what'll happen if she does.

Though an accident ended his career, Kipling still lives for thrills—and a hot fling with a gorgeous redhead like Destiny would be a welcome diversion. Yet beneath his new coworker's cool facade is a woman who needs more than he's ever given. With her, he's ready to take the risk. But love, like skiing, is all about trust—and before you soar, you have to be willing to fall.

I love all of the Fool's Gold books, but Destiny and Kipling's story fell a little flat for me.  I think Destiny's backstory was the part of book that I had trouble with.  Her parents are famous, and she's a virgin who gets pregnant after having sex one time.  Sigh.  I hope the next book in this year's trilogy is has a better character.

Disclosure: I received a digital galley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Prison Meets Ghosts :: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on March 24, 2015

Summary: "On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.

On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.

Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries . . .

What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?"

I don't even know what to say about this book.  It was a bit hard to get into the book.  For some reason (even after reading the front flap) I honestly didn't realize that the book had two narrators.  

The ending though.  I was shocked, and I had to read it a couple different times so I could fully understand the meaning.  I think that we needed one other major detail at the end of the book.  I liked the idea behind the ending, but I would have preferred that we have everything spelled out.

Disclosure: I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


I bet you're wondering where I've been.  I can't lie, April has been a tough month for me reading.  It's already the 23, and I've only read 6 books.  Compare that to March's 15 books, and I'm way behind.  

With school over, I just wanted to read ALL the books, and I got a little burnt out from reading.  It seems like every time I would pick up a book, it wouldn't interest me; even though I had been eagerly anticipating a lot of those new late March/ early April books.  
Now, I'm finding that there is a lot more stuff that I would like to do with my time, and I'm struggling with the guilt that I should be reading.

I'm hoping that May brings many more books, and a reading spurt.

What do you do when you get in a book rut?

I'm going to leave you with a picture of my cat, Olaf.  He and his brother destroyed my fake Christmas tree this past year, but how can you be angry at this face?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
Published by HarperTeen on April 21, 2015

Summary: "When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake."  -- From Goodreads

This book knocked me on my butt.  I knew that this book was going to be difficult to read for many reasons, but I was surprised at how potent Quinn's grief was.  I could feel her pain, and how paralyzed she becomes because she is unable to deal with her emotions after losing her boyfriend.  She does call herself "an eighteen-year-old widow".

I love reading books by Jessi Kirby.  Her characters come to life on the page.  Overall, I really liked this book.  I really liked Colton and Quinn, and how they grew together.  They were imperfect people who fit together perfectly.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy for a fair and honest review.

   If you're looking for a movie similar to this book, check out Return to Me. It's lovely!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes
Published by HarperTeen on March 24, 2015

Summary: "Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit?" --From Goodreads

Liars Inc. is a pretty good mystery.  I thought the author did really well laying out the mystery for the reader, even if the pieces of the puzzle were a little too easy to put together.  There were a few "red herrings" but their motives were not as strong as the actual killer.

Max, Parvati, and Preston's relationships with each other are a bit weird.  Honestly, I could have done with less of their love triangle crap.  When the story involved the FBI, it seemed like Max wasn't in enough trouble.

Overall, this book was an entertaining mystery.  It brought me out of my reading slump.

Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from my local library.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Shelter in a Soldier's Arms by Susan Mallery

Shelter in a Soldier's Arms by Susan Mallery
Published by Silhouette on June 1, 2001

Summary: "When Jeff Ritter offered Ashley Churchill shelter, the struggling single mom longed to lean on his broad shoulders. And though she accepted a job as his housekeeper, Ashley was determined to make her own happiness, without the heartbreak of loving a man. No matter how tempting that man was....

It was Jeff's nature to protect, but his heart was off-limits -- even to the woman and child he came home to each night. For life had made Jeff a hardened soldier, not a man to love. And despite the hope he saw shining in Ashley's eyes, Jeff didn't dare dream she could truly be his."

I liked this book.  I felt it was a good romance, and I liked how it dealt with Jeff's PTSD.  Standard romance fare, but I truly enjoy Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold series much better.

Disclosure: I borrowed the book from my local library.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce #6
Published by Delacorte Press on January 6, 2015

Summary: "Hard on the heels of the return of her mother’s body from the frozen reaches of the Himalayas, Flavia, for her indiscretions, is banished from her home at Buckshaw and shipped across the ocean to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto, her mother’s alma mater, there to be inducted into a mysterious organization known as the Nide.

No sooner does she arrive, however, than a body comes crashing down out of the chimney and into her room, setting off a series of investigations into mysterious disappearances of girls from the school." -- From Goodreads

I loved this book.  It was full of surprises!  Flavia travels to Canada and arrives at an all-girls boarding school.  Where she learns spy things.  I was a bit disappointed that Bradley didn't delve into Flavia's schooling/ spy school a bit more.  I'm still a little confused to what exactly she's going to be doing.  

Overall, I think this was probably my favorite Flavia mystery to date.  The revolving cast of characters makes this story highly entertaining.  I wish Flavia would have stayed in Canada longer, and now I'm especially excited to learn where Flavia is going to go next.

Disclosure: I borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce #6
Published by Delacorte Press on January 14, 2014

Summary: "On a spring morning in 1951, eleven-year-old chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station, awaiting the return of her long-lost mother, Harriet. Yet upon the train's arrival in the English village of Bishop's Lacey, Flavia is approached by a tall stranger who whispers a cryptic message into her ear.

Moments later, he is dead, mysteriously pushed under the train by someone in the crowd...

Who was this man, what did his words mean, and why were they intended for Flavia? Back home at Buckshaw, the de Luces' crumbling estate, Flavia puts her sleuthing skills to the test.

Following a trail of clues sparked by the discovery of a reel of film stashed away in the attic, she unravels the deepest secrets of the de Luce clan, involving none other than Winston Churchill himself." -- From Goodreads

I love any and all Flavia de Luce mysteries.  While I loved this book, I definitely had some issues with it.  Luckily, they weren't major enough to rate it less than five stars.  This book is definitely a major turning point for Flavia.  Flavia must accept the terms of her mother's homecoming, and she has to grow up.  

Bradley's mystery in this book is less in the forefront.  I didn't exactly like this, but I accepted that this was the way that Bradley chose for Flavia to grow as a character.  I was excited for the ending of this book (spy school??), and I can't wait for Flavia's next adventures.

Disclosure: I borrowed the audiobook from my local library. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Platypus Police Squad by Jarrett Krosoczka

Platypus Police Squad by Jarrett Krosoczka
Published by Walden Pond Press

I thought these books were adorable.  I love Jarrett Krosoczka (Lunch Lady!!) and was excited to read this first middle-grade books.  I thought the books were well done, and I think kids of all ages will be excited to read them.  I listened to the audiobooks narrated by Johnny Heller, and I think I'm hooked.  He sounded like a real old school detective.  

Disclosure: I downloaded the audiobooks through my library's digital media catalog.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins
Rebel Belle #2
Published by Putnam Juvenile on April 7, 2015

Summary: "Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life."  -- From Goodreads

I love the characters from this series!  They feel so Southern, you're just waiting for them to say "ya'll" or something similar.  Harper is the classic Type-A control freak, who thinks she knows what everyone's best interests are.  In this book, things change when everyone has a different plan of action for "what's best".  Harper is also thrown into a Paladin trial, and if she fails it will end with her death.  The trials weren't really that dangerous, and that aspect was ended before it really began.  

Overall, this was a good, solid book for the Rebel Belle series.  It was a typical second novel, which left the readers with a lot more questions than answers.  There is no official word about a third book yet, but I hope there will be to tie up some of the loose threads.

Disclosure: I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Rebel Belle series

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Confessions: The Paris Mysteries by James Patterson

Confessions: The Paris Mysteries by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Confessions #3
Published by Little, Brown and Company on October 6, 2014

Summary: "The City of Lights sets the stage for romance, drama and intrigue in the latest Confessions novel from the world's bestselling mystery writer!

After investigating multiple homicides and her family's decades-old skeletons in the closet, Tandy Angel is finally reunited with her lost love in Paris. But as he grows increasingly distant, Tandy is confronted with disturbing questions about him, as well as what really happened to her long-dead sister. With no way to tell anymore who in her life she can trust, how will Tandy ever get to the bottom of the countless secrets her parents kept from her? James Patterson leads this brilliant teenage detective through Paris on a trail of lies years in the making, with shocking revelations around every corner." -- From Goodreads

I really struggled with this book.  I truly like this series, but Tandy seemed very whiny in this book to me.  She has a hard time trusting anyone, and with good reason.  I think the problem this book had was that there were too many "explosive" parts, so they all fell flat.   I will be finishing the rest of this series because I do want to know how it ends.

Disclosure: I borrowed the audiobook from my local library.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Magnolia by Krisi Cook
Published by Simon & Schuster on August 5, 2014

Summary: "In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over." -- From Goodreads

I thought this book was a cute, summer beach read.  Jemma and Ryder have this adorable love/hate relationship going on.  The storm adds more depth to the story, with Jemma and Ryder working together to make it through.  Magnolia is one of those books I'd recommend for anyone looking for a cute contemporary.

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my local library.