Book Reviews, Lists, Discussions, and Displays

Tag: April 2016

Excerpt and Giveaway: Don’t Get Caught

Don't Get Caught

Don’t Get Caught – Kurt Dinan – SourcebooksFire – Published 1 April 2016

Let The Prank War Begin

To celebrate the release of Kurt Dinan’s Don’t Get Caught the publishers have offered an exclusive excerpt and a giveaway for 2 copies of Don’t Get Caught, open from the 1 April to 30 April 2016 (US and Canada entries only, sorry).

Click Here To Enter The Don’t Get Caught Giveaway

Read on for an excerpt from this exciting new novel. You can find my review of Don’t Get Caught here.          Continue reading

Book Review: Keep Me In Mind

Keep Me In Mind

Keep Me In Mind – Jamie Reed – Point – Published 26 April 2016

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Synopsis

Ellia Dawson doesn’t recognize the handsome boy who sits in tears by her hospital bed. But he’s telling her that he’s Liam McPherson, her boyfriend. Boyfriend? Ellia thinks in shock. She has no clue who Liam is, let alone whether or not she once loved him. She remembers her family, her friends, and the fact that she wants to be a fashion designer. But Liam is a big blank in her life.

Meanwhile, Liam is devastated that Ellia, the love of his life, who suffered an accident while they were running together on the beach, has lost her memory. He is desperate to win her back, rebuild what they once had, but Ellia keeps him at an arm’s length. She’s much more comfortable with a new boy she meets at the hospital, who understands more what she’s going through. So Liam begins writing the story of the two of them, piecing together the past in the hopes of having a future with the girl he loves.

My thoughts

What an intriguing story. The focus of Keep Me In Mind seems to be romance but as the story unfurls it becomes clear that it is much more about self discovery, family relationships and the expectations we place on ourselves and others to cope with these relationships.

At the start of this book, and for a large percentage of it, it’s not clear what happened to Ellia, how the accident that stole her memories eventuated, what happened after and why she can’t remember anything about her boyfriend of two years, Liam. She can’t remember him, her parents refuse to talk about him or her accident and Liam himself isn’t all that forthcoming with the details of that fateful morning.

Keep Me In Mind is told in alternating chapters from Liam and Ellia, giving readers an inside look to both sides of the story, while still maintaining the mystery of Ellia’s accident.    Continue reading

Book Review: Romancing the Nerd

9781633752252

Romancing the Nerd – Leah Rae Miller – Entangled: Teen – Published 5 April 2016

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Synopsis

Dan Garrett has become exactly what he hates—popular. Until recently, he was just another live-action role-playing (LARP) geek on the lowest run of the social ladder. Cue a massive growth spurt and an uncanny skill at taking three-point shots in basketball and voila…Mr. Popular. It’s definitely weird. And the biggest drawback? Going from high school zero to basketball hero cost Dan the secret girl-of-his-dorky dreams.

A tuba-playing nerd with an eclectic fashion sense, Zelda Potts’s “Coolness” stat is about minus forty-two. Dan turning his back on her and the rest of nerd-dom was brutal enough, but when he humiliates her at school, Zelda decides it’s time for a little revenge—dork style. Nevermind that she used to have a crush on him. Nevermind that her plan could backfire big time. It’s time to roll the dice…and hope like freakin’ hell she doesn’t lose her heart in the process.

My thoughts

Romancing The Nerd is the quintessential nerd fiction, humorous and with enough in-jokes and references to make any nerd feel at home. With misunderstandings, hidden identities and plotting aplenty, this young adult romance will appeal to readers of fun love stories.

Dan was a nerd once a upon a time, but that was before a growth spurt and his dad landed him on the basketball team and propelled him to popularity glory (or torture, as he sees it). It meant leaving his nerdy friends behind, including Zelda, who has never forgiven him for it. An unfortunate incident (involving a basketball, a tuba and a whole lot of blood) puts Dan in Zelda’s crosshairs. Zelda is determined to enact her revenge. But Zelda never imagined that there was still a cute, fumbling, geeky guy under all that popularity. And it might just be harder for Zelda to hate him than she thought.     Continue reading

Book Review: Like Never Before

Like Never Before

Like Never Before – Melissa Tagg – Bethany House – Published 5 April 2016

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Synopsis

Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley’s haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered. But her new life as a newspaper editor is shaken when the small-town paper is in danger of closing. Her one hope: A lead on an intriguing story that just might impress the new publisher…if only she new who he was.

After his biggest campaign success yet, widowed speechwriter Logan Walker now has the chance of a lifetime–a spot on a presidential campaign. But his plans are interrupted when he finds out he’s inherited his hometown newspaper. He travels home intent on selling the paper and spending some much-needed time with his young daughter before making the leap into national politics.

But instead of a quick sale and peaceful break from his hectic career, Logan finds himself helping Amelia chase her story. She’s scrappy, but wounded. He’s dependable, but lost. They may butt heads more than expected, but a series of leads on Maple Valley’s quirky unsolved mystery is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts.

My thoughts

Like Never Before just shines. Every word, every character has been created with care and love and it seeps through each and every page. I loved this book. I laughed, I cried and I wanted to stay curled up in its pages forever. It is lovely to sink back into the cozy setting of Maple Valley, catch up with old friends and enjoy a new meeting of hearts.

While the books in the Walker Family series could possibly be read independently it’s probably best to read them in series order to stay abreast of who is who and how they fit into Maple Valley and the Walker family. I have read both the first book and the prequel novella and it still took me a few chapters to reacquaint myself with the characters and current setting of events. For those who may have read book one a while ago and find things a little foggy here are a few hints. We met both Logan and Amelia in the first book of the series. Logan is the eldest Walker sibling – the second eldest, Kate, was the heroine of book one, and she is followed by Beckett Walker and then Raegan.   Continue reading

Book Review: Love & Gelato

9781481432542

Love & Gelato – Jenna Evans Welch – Simon Pulse – Published 12 April 2016

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Synopsis

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and ever herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

My thoughts

Romance, gelato, and exploring Italy on the back of a scooter while trying to discover her mother’s past. Love and Gelato is part travel show, part romance and part crazy family drama.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book. It’s not so much love/hate as a there-were-a-few-things-that-annoyed-me-but-overall-I-kind-of-liked-most-of-it-and-really-liked-some-aspects feeling. It’s confusing. Love & Gelato Quote

Lina’s mother has just died. In order to fulfil her mother’s last wish, Lina is off to Italy to meet the father she never knew. But things aren’t as simple as they first seem and when Lina is given her mother’s old journal she sets out to discover what really happen in Italy seventeen years ago.

Okay. Here’s what I liked.   Continue reading

Book Review: Close To You

Close To You

Close To You – Kara Isaac – Howard Books – Published 26 April 2016

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Synopsis

A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.

Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

My thoughts

This is a standout contemporary novel, hilarious, touching and enjoyable right to the very last page. 

Close To You flips from charmingly amusing to downright hilarious. Everything that could possibly go wrong does, from falling into mud pits or getting lost in the rugged New Zealand wilderness. The interactions between Allie and Jackson are magic. From the you’re-driving-me-crazy moments, to the ones where something lingers under the surface, I loved every minute of it.      Continue reading

Book Review: Essential Maps For The Lost

9781481415163

Essential Maps for the Lost

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Synopsis

Sometimes people want to be lost. Madison—Mads to everyone who knows her—is trying her best to escape herself during one last summer away from a mother who needs more from her than she can give, and from a future that has been decided by everyone but her.

Sometimes the lost do the unimaginable, like the woman, the body, Mads collides with in the middle of the water on a traumatic morning that changes everything.

And sometimes the lost are the ones left behind, like the son of the woman in the water, Billy Youngwolf Floyd. Billy is struggling to find his way through each day in the shadow of grief. His one comfort is the map he carries in his pocket, out of his favorite book The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

When three lives (and one special, shared book) collide, strange things happen. Things like questions and coincidences and secrets, lots of secrets. Things like falling in love. But can two lost people telling so many lies find their way through tragedy to each other…and to solid ground?

My thoughts

This is a raw and revealing tale of survival and resilience, of searching for sunlight and chasing your dreams.

Right from the start the reader is warned that the story between Madison Murray (Mads) and Billy Youngwolf Floyd will be horrible but also beautiful. Readers are told to hang on through the tough bits and wait for the good. Well, this is great advice. There are plenty of hard bits in this story. One minute everything is going along smoothly, sunshine and puppy dogs, kisses and smiles and then suddenly everything spirals downwards, only to jump back again. This certainly is a book that drags you right along through the characters’ emotional turmoil.

Mads is up against a ticking clock. She has this one last summer before she must return home to her (slightly unstable) mother who needs her (and loves her), the (in-danger-of-crumbling) real-estate business she will share with her mother, and her endless future of house-showings and signed deals. She must pass her real-estate licensing course, forget about the college applications she never sent, and cope with the despair she feels over the looming deadline to her life. When Mads bumps into the body of Anna Youngwolf Floyd while swimming one morning, Mads’ path is irrevocably altered. Her obsession with Anna, who she was and why she came to be in the lake, brings her into the orbit of Anna’s son Billy. They connect through a series of unlikely yet not-coincidental meetings, but their story is not to be a smooth journey.    Continue reading

Book Review: Don’t Get Caught

Don't Get Caught

Don’t Get Caught – Kurt Dinan – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 1 April 2016

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Synopsis

10:00 tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. -Chaos Club

When Max receives a mysterious invite from the untraceable, epic prank-pulling Chaos Club, he has to ask: why him? After all, he’s Mr. 2.5 GPA, Mr. No Social Life. He’s Just Max. And his favorite heist movies have taught him this situation calls for Rule #4: Be suspicious. But it’s also his one shot to leave Just Max in the dust…

Yeah, not so much. Max and four fellow students-who also received invites-are standing on the newly defaced water tower when campus security “catches” them. Definitely a setup. And this time, Max has had enough. It’s time for Rule #7: Always get payback.

Let the prank war begin.

My thoughts

This book had me at Ocean’s 11. Or maybe it was at heist movies. Nope, make that ‘always get payback’. So this book had a lot of things going for it. I knew I just had to read it. It’s a great mix of humour and outrageous escapades, with a cast of realistic, if slightly crazy, teenage characters.

When Max is invited to the water tower by the school’s infamous Chaos Club he is happy to throw off his Just-Max, nobody role and do something a bit daring. But when he and the four other students told to meet there are set up and embarrassingly caught and then punished in front of the whole school, Max is determined to seek his revenge. And just like any good heist leader, Max needs a crew – and the four teens also caught in the first embarrassing prank setup prove to be excellent and willing conspirators.    Continue reading

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