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Summer Reading 2018 List!

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A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers

Black Butler (Volumes 23-25)

Fruits Basket (Volume 17 to end)

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen, book 2)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows, book 1)

Star In The Morning by Lynn Kurland (A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms, book 1) (2nd Read)

With Every Breath by Lynn Kurland (MacLeod, book 7) (2nd Read)

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (The Books of Bayern, book 1) (2nd Read)


These are all the books I would like to get through this summer. However, I’m not gonna push myself to finish this entire list because I know I most likely won’t have the time. I’ve changed this list so many times but this final version seems right for the summer. I’m excited and curious about the possibilities of the stories here. Whatever happens I’ll get through them all eventually.

What books are on your summer reading list this year?


As Always, Happy Reading!

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Book Review: Treasured by Thursday by Catherine Bybee

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Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Series: The Weekday Brides, book 7
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

Summary (via Goodreads):
The seventh and final tale in the dazzling, heartwarming, pulse-racing Weekday Brides series.

Gabriella Masini: She’s a woman haunted by her past, with the scars to prove it. She believes that fairy tales are for other people. An elite matchmaker at Alliance, she’s great at crunching numbers, but something doesn’t add up with her latest prospective client: a billionaire bad boy with his own secrets. When Gabi refuses to be his temporary wife, Hunter forces her hand with an offer she can’t refuse. But marriage to a man like that could never last…or could it?

Hunter Blackwell: Only his bank account is bigger than his ruthless ability to obtain anything he wants. These days, he has a secret reason to settle down, at least for a while—and he thinks the sensual and sassy Gabi will fit the bill perfectly. But when their marriage of convenience becomes downright dangerous, Hunter must decide how far to take his vow to honor and protect Gabi forever.

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My Review:
Not what I was expecting, kind of disappointed, but still want to read more of Catherine Bybee’s books.

I think I would have liked this book more if Hunter wasn’t such a jerk (the nicest term that can be used) and if the relationship that develops between him and Gabi wasn’t so implausible.

Hunter is a self-made billionaire and ruthless businessman. If he wants something, he gets it by any means, even if those means destroy others. Most of his demons he solves with money. But his current secret requires a temporary wife, Gabi, whom he blackmails. As he gets to know her, discovers more of her secrets, and his attraction for her increases, he softens more and more into a “decent” guy and soon he’s doing everything to “protect” Gabi from danger he, for the most part, caused/set in motion. Even after learning all of Hunter’s secrets and understanding how he got to where he was, I still find it hard to trust and like him as a character.

The relationship is too one-sided with Hunter holding all the cards and Gabi trying to stay afloat as the demons of her past resurface. She’s survived so much and deserves a HEA; I’m just not sure if Hunter’s the guy. She hates him at first – and rightly so – but is also attracted to him. She slowly begins to like him as she begins to see the real mean beneath the billionaire playboy and does her best (albeit reluctantly at first) to make this temporary marriage work (find some peace they can both live with for the duration of the contract). This is why it feels so one-sided. As their feelings for each other become more real, Gabi seems to put in more than Hunter. I do respect Hunter for giving her space in the beginning after he learns the kind of relationship she last left behind. But by the end of the story, I’m still not sure about their relationship.

I think the conflict of the story is really good. It was a slow tease at first and then slowly inclined into greater detail. But the conflict didn’t really take shape until closer to the end. A good way to weave in the conflict. Yet, at least for me, the whole business with Hunter really overshadowed the impact of the conflict.

I really like Gabi. When she’s comfortable and in her element her character shines really bright. I just wish she had more chances to shine and grow. I also think it was a bit of a disservice making her too much a damsel in distress but I get it comes from a place of love. Her family and friends really care about her and will do anything to protect and support her after all she’s been through. And sometimes that’s what you need to really pull yourself out of the dark hole life has left you in.

This was a difficult review to write. I think Hunter’s character ruined the story for me but I still had a decent reading experience and finished the book in under two days. I still want to read more of Bybee’s books because the story and writing is good and keeps me interested from start to finish.


My Reviews of Catherine Bybee’s Books:
Not Quite Mine (Not Quite, book 2)
Taken by Tuesday (The Weekday Brides, book 5)

 


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Book Review: Taken by Tuesday by Catherine Bybee

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Series: The Weekday Brides, book 5
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
He’ll do anything to keep her safe…for the rest of their lives.

Judy Gardner: College graduate Judy stands ready to conquer the world…if she can get a job. Hoping to transition from aspiring architect to famous architect as quickly as possible, the dark-haired beauty moves to LA, staying in the home of her celebrity brother, Michael Wolfe. But it’s hard for Judy to focus on work when the sexy bodyguard she fell for last summer keeps showing up in her life and leaving her breathless.

Rick Evans: With his hard body, green eyes, and easy smile, Rick could have any woman he wants. But the Marine-turned- bodyguard only has eyes for Judy and her spitfire attitude. When a faceless villain attacks Judy, Rick will stop at nothing to protect the woman who opened his heart from the monster hunting her.

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My Review:
I really enjoyed reading this book. I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t want to put in down and finished it in under two days. Taken by Tuesday was just a sweet tale and interesting mystery inter-playing with each other.

I love Judy’s strength and persistence. She’s independent and relies on herself to make her dreams come true. Rick is very persistent in pursuing Judy, an alpha male to a T. He’s a good, honest man and very swoon-worthy. Judy and Rick are very attracted to each other (which started before the book began) but Judy wants a career first. She just graduated college feels pursing her long-time crush now would derail those plans.

In terms of fictional couples, Judy and Rick’s has the craziest beginnings of a relationship that didn’t seem nor was there any time to really explore what could be. Then threat to Judy becomes a major interruption. But against all odds the relationship is still able to find a way to develop.

Finding the culprit was an interesting mystery that gets complicated as the story goes on. I wasn’t sure who the bad guy was until right before the characters found out. I totally forgot the whole bride aspect of this series until it was brought up in the book and it was shocking yet impressive with how it’s inserted in this book. The climatic scene was slightly anti-climatic, but the story still ended well enough.

This is only the second book I’ve read of Bybee’s and I’m now a huge fan of her writing. This book was so good.  I loved the story and the family ties that bind everyone. Taken by Tuesday is a nice light, attention-grabbing, contemporary romance.


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Book Review: From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Maybe
Favorite Quotes: “I wanted people to see me, to like me for who I was and what I had to offer. I wanted to use my talent to transform people’s lives and how they saw the world.”

“It’s never happened. But there are people out there, people like me, who need someone to come along and tell their stories. To explore all those different universes for them. So why can’t I be the one to do it?”

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

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My Review:
This book was a lot to take in and has left me feeling torn about what to make of it.

I picked up this book because it sounded interesting (first book I’ve read of Sandhya Menon’s) and I’d never read a book where the MC was aspiring to become a filmmaker as a young Indian-American woman. I thought that sounded awesome.

In terms of the obstacles Twinkle faces, this is one of those stories where, as the saying goes, things get worse before they get better. And they do get worse and worse. So much that it made me an anxious reader while openly yelling things like “NO!” and “That’s not a good idea!” and “Think. Think. Think!” and “I can’t watch.”

There’s a lot of teenage drama, clicks, unrequited love, and social angst. Twinkle’s dwindling friendship with (formerly sister BFF) Maddie is also a major source of contention. Everything was too much sometimes. Perhaps there were too many issues going on that pulled the reader’s attention every which way despite it all being connected.

I liked how flawed Twinkle (and pretty much everyone else, except Dadi, Twinkle’s grandmother, really) and how strong and direct her voice is. For the teen characters, the biggest flaw is their insecurities: Twinkle feeling invisible and not good enough to be noticed at school and home; Sahil always being compared to his star-athlete star-academic twin brother. I think this heightens what Twinkle seeks to accomplish with her film (and future films) as well as the overall theme of the book about finding one’s voice and being able to share that voice with others (as well as the importance of telling underrepresented voices/stories).

There are times while reading when I was like, “Twinkle seems like she’s got a good head on her shoulders and is a really passionate person.” Then other times I was like, “Why, Twinkle, why would you do that?”, whenever her rational fled when deeper emotions took over. Also, I thought it ill-advised that she blindly believed that “N” had to be Neil – her crush who she’s had (so it appears) very little interaction/conversation with and knows nothing about. That would have been (reluctantly) fine if she also, logically, thought the email could well be a dangerous stranger on the internet or a troll cat-fishing her. “N” got her email from the school’s directory, so “N” being a student is more likely but still! Not once does she think “stranger danger,” even a little. I find that incredibly impossible. Also, it wasn’t hard to figure out the true identity of “N” but I was somewhat surprised by the why of it.

I like that Twinkle tells the story through letters to her favorite female filmmarkers in diary format. When she’s directly talking to them her passion comes through. I also like that her choice of the film she adapts for the festival, even if I haven’t ever seen it. I’d watch her version of it though.

I loved Sahil. Perhaps too perfect of a character? Maybe – he certainly wouldn’t think so. But he’s just a bright light in this crazy mess of high school drama. And I like that he too takes steps to be seen, to be heard in a way that is unique to him. He does it better than Twinkle by fa,r but everyone takes a different path to get to such a grounded place.

As dramatic as this book was, I think Sandhya Menon is a fantastic writer. There were lots of phrases whose diction was so amazing and seemingly effortlessly written. I thought it genius for her to have Twinkle describe her social status as “groundlings” versus the “silk feathered hats” (aka the rich and popular crowd) from Shakespearean days at the theater. She took something (super) old and made it feel fresh and new. Loved it.

The ending made me kind of emotional and happy. No storm lasts forever. When the clouds finally cleared things felt changed. Maybe a little to sugary sweet of an ending but good nonetheless.

Based on all that, I’m left conflicted about my overall impression of the book. It was too much drama but not bad. Inspiring in many ways at its core. And a talented writer at the helm.


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MORE Books Added To My TBR List

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More books to read! Yay! The ones below are a mix of definites, most liklies, and we’ll sees. But it’s always exciting when you can add a ton of new books to your TBR list.


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows, book 1)
I passed on this originally, but recently re-read the synopsis and felt that this could actually be a story I would like. I’ve never read any books by this author so who knows what will happen.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (Nikolai, book 1)
This may sound silly but I added this mostly because of the cover and somewhat because of the synopsis and title. I saw this cover on Twitter the day it was released and fell in love – is that even possible? This is probably one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen. Since the book doesn’t come out until Jan 2019 and involves a character from Six of Crows, it’ll probably be a long while before I’d get to this book. But I wanted to add it regardless.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (The Folk of the Air, book 1)
I’m no stranger to Holly Black’s books and writing. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like this book – I didn’t think it was the right story for me at the time or at all. But Black does all things fae well so maybe it could turn out to be a good read. I’d like to give it a try.

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen, book 2)
It’s been a little over a year since I’ve read Red Queen, which I loved. I think the reason it’s taken me so long to continue this series is because of the conflict and everything was so terrifyingly good I didn’t think I was emotionally ready to continue reading. But with the series finally coming to an end and now that I’ve caught up on several books that have been long-since back-logged, perhaps it’s time to get back to it and see this through to the end. I’ve only added book two (for now).

The Red Fox Clan by John Flanagan
According to Goodreads, this title won’t be released until Aug 2018. I’m not sure if I’ll read it based on the synopsis. But it’s a book by John Flanagan so I added it to the list.

Taken by Tuesday by Catherine Bybee (The Weekday Brides, book 5)
Treasured by Thursday by Catherine Bybee (The Weekday Brides, book 7)
So I really enjoyed reading Not Quite Mine and wanted to read more of Catherine Bybee’s books. I liked what these two books are about so added them. My library doesn’t have all of Bybee’s books, so I’m not following her series in order since it seems they can all be read as stand-alones.


Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? What new books have you added to your TBR list recently?

As Always, Happy Reading!!!


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Book Review: Not Quite Mine by Catherine Bybee

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Series: Not Quite, book 2
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):

Gorgeous hotel heiress Katelyn “Katie” Morrison seems to have it all. But when she crosses paths with Dean Prescott—the only man she’s ever loved—at her brother’s wedding, Katie realizes there’s a gaping hole in her life. After the ceremony she gets an even bigger surprise: a baby girl left on her doorstep. Determined to keep the newborn until she learns who her mother is, Katie has her hands full and doesn’t need Dean snooping around…especially when his presence stirs feelings she thought were long gone..

Dean Prescott knows Katie is lying to him about the baby. He shouldn’t care what the woman who broke his heart is up to…and he most certainly shouldn’t still be aching for her. Yet Dean can’t ignore the need to protect Katie—or the desire to be near her every chance he gets. But when he and Katie solve the mystery surrounding the baby, their second chance for happiness could be shattered forever.

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My Review:
I really really enjoyed reading this book. It was such a fun, romantic, but serious story. The theme of motherhood, family, and reconciling with the past is well written and conveyed.

Katie has been a “party-girl” for the better part of her youth until recently. With her brother marrying the love of his life and starting a family, seeing the ex she loved but has kept her distance at said wedding, and a baby left on her doorstep right after the wedding, Katie is left in predicament with lots of questions. But she decides to take responsibility for the baby and control over her life. She is truly a kind person and with an immense capacity to love. She’s stronger than she realizes despite the messiness of her past. That strength, kindness, and love is paramount in every action she takes throughout the story.

Dean clearly still has feelings for Katie even after his ex-fiancé left him weeks before their wedding. And with those renewed feelings comes the resolve to settle things once and for all. The fact that he suspects something is up furthers his resolve and desire to help the woman he’s known since childhood. I like Dean’s character. I thought he was a bit too nosy at first, but I got where that concern was coming from. The Prescotts and Morrisons are close. Dean is Jack’s (Katie’s brother) best friend and the history between them is tight (practically family). But he is a good guy – a “good southern gentleman when he wants to be,” he claims.

It didn’t take much to guess who were the baby’s parents, but the mystery of solving the how and why was interesting and helped hold the story together. To each his or her own on what you make of why the baby was abandoned. I far more disagreed than agreed with the explanation. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

The close ties of the family and family friends was lovely. Katie’s relationship with her new/other sister-in-law, Monica (the sister of Jessie who married Jack), was goals. I love babies, so Savannah (the baby Katie takes care of) was everything adorable.

There’s so much more I wanted to say about this book but it would be difficult because of spoilers. But this was a nice, quick read. I would read more titles by this author.


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Book Review: Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
The more I touch someone, the more I can see and understand, and the more I think I can help. But that’s my mistake. I can’t help. You can’t fix people like you can solve a math problem.

Math genius. Freak of nature. Loner.

Eva Walker has literally one friend—if you don’t count her quadruplet three-year-old-siblings—and it’s not even because she’s a math nerd. No, Eva is a loner out of necessity, because everyone and everything around her is an emotional minefield. All she has to do is touch someone, or their shirt, or their cell phone, and she can read all their secrets, their insecurities, their fears.

Sure, Eva’s “gift” comes in handy when she’s tutoring math and she can learn where people are struggling just by touching their calculators. For the most part, though, it’s safer to keep her hands to herself. Until she meets six-foot-three, cute-without-trying Zenn Bennett, who makes that nearly impossible.

Zenn’s jacket gives Eva such a dark and violent vision that you’d think not touching him would be easy. But sometimes you have to take a risk…

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My Review:
A really good story that I want to know more about, especially the characters.

Though the concept of “touch = knowledge” or vision isn’t new to me, I find it incredibly powerfully used in this novel. Part of what makes this story so good is that this is young adult novel, an age group where things link touch, relationships, and bonds are so pivotal to the experiences during this tumultuous period of growth and development. I’ve seen the power of “touch” used in YA before but Wendy Brant has brought new meaning to this mysterious, psychic-esque power.

Eva, the main character, cannot have any close bonds because touching anyone or anything will give off what she refers to as fractals (or algos) – impressions about a person’s life colored by their emotions (their fears, anger, pain, sorrow, happiness). This impossible barrier has made it extremely difficult to have any meaningful relationship, even with her family. And that is what makes the idea of this story so compelling and strong.

In the very beginning, Eva’s highly critical judgments about others (at least that’s how they seemed to me) was a bit of a turn off and I feared she’d be an unlikable character. But I ended up liking her. I feel all that she is (how complex she is beneath her good-girl perfect student surface) made her the perfect voice for this story. Her character growth and what she experiences and observes is so important to the teenage experience, the outsider looking in. Very relatable. I adored her math nerdiness and her rather awkward moments – those moments she seemed most alive (other than when she was around Zenn).

Zenn I love to bits, especially his name which piqued part of my interest in reading this story. He’s so laid-back, hardworking, and real. His character presents a new possibility but also an obstacle – yet he’s more than just a plot device. He comes with his own story and struggles that are tightly woven into the story. However, the biggest thing that makes him different might could be seen as too cliché and hard to overlook.

Not sure why but all the references to real-world products and brands throughout kind of threw me off – probably because I’m not used to seeing so many of such references in contemporary fiction. And I guess for me it gave off a too-real vibe, an intrusion on the fantasy of the reading experience.

The cover and jacket is so cute, simple and fitting to the story.

There’s so much left undone and unsaid that it feels like there needs to be a sequel to this. Eva and Zenn’s relationship is just too interesting and circumstantially unique to be contained in one book or at least within 315 pages. There’s so much more I want to know about them and how they’ll cope with what’s happened further in life since they’re 18 and in their last year of high school. The epilogue is satisfactory, but the book can’t escape the unfinished, over too soon feel. I’d be interested in reading more.