Thursday, August 10, 2017

*ARC* What It Takes - Review

What It Takes: A Dirt Road Love Story

By: Sonya Loveday

Published: May 27, 2017

242 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Source: ebook, ARC from Netgalley

(Goodreads / Amazon)

Summary:
Gracen Lowell is on the hunt for a man—but not just any man. He has to be ‘the one’. Her only problem is that no one she’s dated has ever measured up to the charming qualities of her best friend. 

Slade Owens knows no matter how much he loves Gracen, he’ll never be what she’s looking for. And he dang sure isn’t going to stick around to watch her fall in love with someone else. Slade leaving the Owens’ family farm for an out-of-state job should put enough distance between the two to allow him to move on with his life and Gracen to search for her happily-ever-after. 

Gracen knows asking him to stay isn’t fair. Slade thinks leaving her behind is the only thing to do. Inexplicably drawn together, the best friends must decide if they have what it takes to own up to their feelings… before it’s too late.
MY REVIEW:
I really enjoyed this story! Cowboys, Texas, childhood best friends! There's nothing sweeter to me than stories about childhood best friends that find love. It gets me right in the soft spot of my heart every single time! I also had a bit of nostalgic feelings as the story had me reminiscing of my own childhood growing up in southeast Texas.

In this story Gracen and her father moved to the Owens Ranch in Texas when she was 5 years old. She grew up riding horses and swimming in creeks and doing all the things the Owen's brothers did. She was closest to Slade and they grew up thicker than blood. A bond between them that was unbreakable. They moved in each other's space like breathing air. But friendship was all they ever had. Gracen was convinced that she was on a journey to find the "right one" and though she deeply loved Slade, had fallen in love with him, she didn't believe he reciprocated the same deep feelings for her. On the flip side, Slade has been in love with Gracen for a long time but he doesn't think she feels that way for him - as much as she goes on and on about finding Mr. Right, he figures he must not be that for her. He'd rather have her friendship than nothing at all. Best friends for 16 years is not something he's willing to give up. So he decides it's time to move on and give her the space she needs to find whoever that right guy is, without him always being around. So he takes a job in Montana. That should be far enough away.

With Slade away Gracen allows herself to open up to the possibility of someone other than him. Though she's depressed and destraught and can't fully function without Slade there. He's been her rock for so long she's lost without him. Not to mention the conditions in which he left. She can't continue to pine after someone that in her mind, doesn't want her in the same way. The new ranch hand, Clint, is handsome and charming and he continues to gently pursue her until she finally gives in.

Yes, it was frustrating that Slade and Gracen didn't communicate better about their feelings, but after finishing the story I can understand their hesitation to "lay all their cards on the table". Having been friends for so long they stood to lose a great deal if they let romantic feelings in and things didn't work out. On the flip side, you stand to gain so much by just being upfront and honest. That's life though isn't it? Always learning lessons the hard way.

This story deals with physical abuse. It is scary and heavy. But it also deals with friendship and love and family and loyalty. I was definitely getting hit with a lot of feels! It was a fast read and every page had me wanting to come back for more. For my first book by Sonya Loveday I was quite pleased and I definitely see myself picking up some more books by her.

Top 5 Favorite Quotes:
"Your muscly muscles are hurting me."

"Princess, I already bow at your feet as it is."

My daddy had always told me a man's word was his honor. If a man couldn't uphold his word, what kind of man was he?

"A man ain't much of a man if he can try to darken someone like that...try to take their light."

"Family of our choosing is sometimes even better than the ones we're stuck with by blood."

Language: 2 (medium)
Mature Content: 2 (medium)
Final Rating: 4 stars

Thursday, August 3, 2017

*ARC* Loving Kalvin - Review

Loving Kalvin (The Kennedy Boys #4)

By: Siobhan Davis

Published: July 31, 2017

224 pages

Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Source: ebook, ARC from author

(Goodreads / Amazon)

Summary:
A second-chance romance from USA Today bestseller Siobhan Davis. Standalone with HEA and no cliffhanger. 

Lana 
I knew it would end in disaster, but I didn’t listen to reason. I didn’t care. Because I loved him so much. 
Kalvin Kennedy ruled my heart. 
Until he destroyed it. 
Shattered it so completely that I became someone else. Someone I loathed. Someone who repeatedly lied to her loved ones. 
So, I ran. 
From him. From myself. Desperate to hide my new reality. 
But I could only run so far. 
When he reappears in my life, I’m terrified. Unbelievably scared of facing the consequences of my actions. 
Never mind that I still love him and want him so badly—there’s too much at stake now. 
How can I trust him with the biggest secret of all when he’s likely to rip my world apart again? 


Kalvin 
Lana was always far too good for me. Everyone knew it but her. 
I tried to stay away, but I was weak. 
And I hurt her. 
Crushed her until she barely resembled herself. Forced her to follow a path she would never have willingly chosen. 
And then she was gone. 
And my world has never felt as empty, as lonely. 
She begged me to stay away. Not to find her. To forget she ever existed. 
But that’s like asking me to slice my heart in two and toss half aside. 
I’ve never believed in fate, but when I rock up to the University of Florida, I’m ready to eat my words. 
Because she’s here. Like I hoped she would be. And I’m determined to prove I deserve a second chance. 

This series is only suitable for readers aged seventeen and older due to mature content and language.
MY REVIEW:
Being book 4 in the series, it's very hard to keep a review spoiler free. What I will say is that this book follows Kalvin, one of 7 of the Kennedy brothers. The order of their birth is Kaden, Keven, Kyler, Kalvin, Keanu, Kent and Keaton. Kalvin and Lana had a past that was vaguely elluded to in the first three books but what exactly that past entailed and how deep or real their relationship went actually is still a big mystery going in to book 4.

Kalvin is only 17 years old at the start of this story. He finished high school early and is enrolled in the University of Florida. Exactly where he believes 18 year old Lana to have gone to college. Kalvin and Lana have been best friends since they were 2 years old. They grew up together and, at the age of 13, both knew there was more between them than just friends. However, they literally came from two different social and economic classes. Basically, Lana's family was "the help" of the Kennedy's. From that point on into their older teen years, Kalvin pushes Lana away and chases after any and every girl he can get his hands on. Until he finally realizes Lana is the one he's always wanted; the reason why he's never been satisfied with anyone else. At the start of the story though, Kalvin and Lana haven't seen or spoken to one another in a year. By her request, he hasn't looked for her. Too much pain has occured and Lana blames herself for that. She believes by them living miles apart and allowing space and time to heal old wounds, that is the only way either of them can thrive. Kalvin believes they can reclaim what they once had. If only he can convince her.

A few irritations I had were mostly with Lana constantly pushing Kalvin away instead of being completely honest with him about her feelings. Lies is what got them to the place they are in now. So it was frustrating to me to see her continue to be dishonest...both with him and with herself. Dishonesty over any length of time is bound to blow up in your face and can cause irreparable damage.

Every book in this series is filled with teen angst and romance, drama, and, at some level, deceit and lies. Some lies are harder to come back from than others. Just as I loved the first three books, I equally enjoyed the story of Kalvin and Lana. It was entertaining and enjoyable!

Check out my reviews of the previous books in the series:
Finding Kyler
Losing Kyler
Keeping Kyler

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced complimentary copy of this book.

Top 5 Favorite Quotes:
"Don't stop fighting for her. When things are rough, don't give up."

"When we were kids, everything seemed so black and white," I start to explain. "But reality is so many different shades of complexity."

Being charitable in your every thought and every action is what matters.

"You're like the brightest star in the sky, lighting my life in so many ways."

"To family. To health, happiness, love, and forgiveness. To the future."

Language Rating: 2 (medium)
Mature Content Rating: 2 (medium)
Final Rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

2017 Series Enders Reading Challenge: July Wrap Up

Time for our seventh Monthly Wrap Up for the 2017 Series Enders Reading Challenge hosted by Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know and Holly @ Words Fueled by Love!

Since the June Wrap Up, Holly hasn't finished any series enders this month. Sandy finished A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, # 3) by Sarah J Maas.

Announcements/Reminders:
  1. Please make sure we have a valid email address or other means of contacting you if you choose to participate. Linking up to Goodreads is perfectly fine, but we have found that Goodreads is not a reliable source for contacting someone should you be selected as one of the monthly giveaway winners. This could be due to your Goodreads notification settings or Goodreads themselves could be at fault. We're not sure which. And since we want to make sure that everyone who is eligible for one of the giveaways will receive their prize should they win one month or the grand prize at the end of the year, it is up to you to ensure that we can contact you and that you respond within a reasonable amount of time (usually stated in the email notifying you of your winning).
  2. While the challenge and giveaways are open internationally, please make sure that you can receive e-gift cards via Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. Again, we want to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to participate and to receive the prizes. Please remember that Holly and I are funding the giveaways out of our own pockets as something that we want to do, and we would like to continue to do so.
Which series enders did you finish? Link up below. Don't forget to include the title, your name, & your blog name (Ex: Requiem - Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know) Also, the July giveaway runs from July 25th - August 25th. On August 25th we will use random.org and the linky entries to pull a winner.





Monday, July 24, 2017

How to Save a Life - Review

How to Save a Life (Dreamcatcher #1)

By: Emma Scott

Published: February 9, 2016 by Trillian

274 pages

Genre: New Adult, Romance, Paranormal

Source: Personal Kindle Library

(Goodreads / Amazon)

Summary:
Josephine Clark is trapped. A harrowing past haunts her every time she looks in the mirror, and she can’t escape the violence of her everyday life. More and more, her thoughts turn to Evan Salinger, the boy she knew in high school. The boy they called a mental case. A loner. A freak. The boy who seemed to know things no one could know. For a few short weeks, Jo had found perfect solace in Evan’s company, sneaking every night to meet him at the local pool. In the cool of the water and the warmth of Evan’s arms around her, Jo had tasted something close to happiness. 

Cruel circumstances tore them apart, and four years later, the sweet memory of their time together is dissolving under the punishing reality of Jo’s life now. Evan seems like a fading dream…until he reappears at the moment she needs him most. Guided by Evan’s strange intuition, they flee her small Louisiana town, on the run from the police, and Jo begins to suspect there is something more to his sudden return than he admits. 

Over twelve days across America’s heartland, deep secrets come to light, buried pasts are unearthed, and the line between dreams and reality is blurred as Evan and Jo fight to hold on to their soul-deep love, and discover that there is more than one way to save a life. 

How to Save a Life is a complete second-chance STANDALONE novel with shades of the paranormal. It carries the characters from high school through to their early twenties. It is not YA; mature subject matter and sexual situations. TRIGGER WARNING: some domestic violence (on the page) and mentions of sexual abuse (off the page) For readers 18 years and up.
MY REVIEW:
This was maybe the 4th book I've read by Emma Scott. Having loved Full Tilt, All InThe Butterfly Project I was expecting great things! Perhaps I built up my expectations too high because I was disappointed with this one. Let me explain why.

First off...this story deals with both sexual and physical abuse. The sexual abuse is not explained in detail, only in vague memories from the past. The reader is spared what could have been graphic details on that, for which I'm thankful. Secondly, this story is pretty much as close to insta-love as you can get. I don't normally cringe with insta-love stories but this one felt forced to me.

The story begins with Josephine at a new high school, her senior year, only a few weeks away from graduation. Her parents are both dead at the start of the story and her uncle is her legal guardian. As a trucker they move around a lot. So much so, that she's never in any one place long enough to form any kind of meaningful relationship. Due to a rather noticable scar on her face she often gets labled quickly in the new schools so she gives them something to label her for. At this new school though, the school freak has already been bestowed upon another student. A very handsome, tall, blonde, muscular guy, who by appearance alone doesn't look like a freak. Everyone warns her to keep her distance from Evan Salinger though.

Evan is adopted into the Salinger family where 2 of his adopted brothers are verbally and physically abusive to him. They hate him. His younger adopted brother is the one bright spot in the situation in which he finds himself. Evan is the school freak. After some time spent in a mental hospital his peers do not let him escape that which he views as a gift. See, Evan has dreams that are pictures of events that are soon to happen but he doesn't remember the details of the dream until right before it happens. Basically, he is clairvoyant. One time seeing a shooting where a classmate's father dies, and he freaks out during class, sets all of his classmates against him.

Only 30% in to the story, without a whole lot of interaction, to be exact ONE conversation, between Jo and Evan, he calls her "sweetness". This definitely made me cringe and gag a little bit. I don't know many 17/18 year old boys who would call their girl interest this term of endearment. Baby or Babe is more common for sure. But after ONE conversation? Um....no.

The story jumps ahead, after it's first tragedy, by 4 years. Jo is living in Louisiana and finds herself in another horrible situation. Living with a guy who is physically abusive and is a meth head. This girl either has some terrible luck or she just downright makes horrible decisions! When she is most scared for her life, Jo breathes into the air for Evan to come find her and save her. She doesn't fully understand or believe it'll work but she is running out of time. Once he shows up in that strange way of his, the story takes them on the run from the police. At 90% through I didn't know how the story was going to finish in time but knowing it was a standalone (but part 1 in a series...if that makes much sense) I kept waiting for resolution. Of which it finally comes and I was pleased with the ending.

In the Kindle version I read there were a whole lot of grammatical errors; incorrect usage of words; missing words; misspelled words. This always makes me feel "meh" especially when it's a published book that I paid for.

Though older age Young Adult's are sure to enjoy this one, it does fall more in the New Adult realm of content and age.

Top Favorite Quotes:
"That's the majestic, terrible beauty of a rumor. It doesn't have to be true for it to spread."

Something about sitting in a guy's truck and watching him drive with masculine expertise was such a turn-on.

You're never stuck anywhere if you have a good book.

"You are my life. You're in the marrow of my bones, Jo. In my dreams, my future, every particle of me."

Language: 2 (medium)
Mature Content: 2 (medium)
Final Rating: 3.5 stars

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Post #117

Sunday Post is a weekly post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
Each week bloggers participate to share any books received and news from their week.

Click on the book cover to be taken to its Goodreads page.

~FOR REVIEW~

RECAP OF WEEK:
SUNDAY:

THURSDAY:

Things are getting back to normal. Daughter's ankle is still not 100% but the orthopedic appointment and (second) xray this week showed no fracture. With a strong anti-inflammatory and strict instructions to work her ankle and strengthen it with PT exercises, she's walking with a brace and slowly getting back the activities she enjoys most!

Band camp starts for my oldest this week. 8:00-5:00 all week for two weeks. It's a tiring time for him but he LOVES it! I can't believe we are 5 Friday's away from the start of high school football games! It's one of our most favorite seasons of the year!!

In other news, after 15 years of being a stay-at-home mom and then a Nanny for the last nearly 5 of those years, I'm going back to work outside of the home as a school secretary in less than 2 weeks. This is a new transition for our family and for my kids. They've never known me to work outside the home. We were blessed for me to be available for them 24/7 since their birth. It's bitter sweet, and a bit scary but I believe it is a God-approved decision as we have been praying over this decision and job position for 3 months and the path has been smooth and has worked out effortlessly. I will have school holiday's off and summer's off and my hours will be such that I can still take my kids to school and pick them up AND not miss any of my daughter's sporting events or my son's marching events. I honestly could not have asked for a better situation if I have to go back to work. I'm sure for a time my reading time will seriously be cut in to, which may make my blogging less than it is now. But I'll still be around.

2017 SERIES ENDERS READING CHALLENGE SIGN UP:
You can now join us for our 4th annual Series Enders Reading Challenge for 2017! Join anytime until December 15, 2017. We give away a gift card EVERY month to one lucky participant and we award a GRAND PRIZE at the end of the year. The more series enders book reviews you link up - the more entries you have to win. Come join us!



Enjoy your week!
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

*ARC* The Sound of Light - Review

The Sound of Light

By: Claire Wallis

Published: July 17, 2017

320 pages

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult

Source: ebook, ARC from author

(Goodreads / Amazon)

Summary:
My littlest girl has always been a bit peculiar. It was nothing I could ever put a finger on, but I always knew there was something inside her that made her a different kind of special. A deeper kind. 

K'acy's got a light around her, one that'll just about knock you over, especially if you don't see her coming. She's got music in her soul, too. Deep, resonating music that echoes and hums, just like the notes that come from the bass guitar she's had attached to her hip since the day she turned thirteen years old. 

She's got a heck of a secret, yes, but she does what she's got to do to make it one worth having. She takes care of people. She changes their stories. I spent my life telling both of my girls that you always gotta do what's right, even when it hurts, and it makes me proud to know she was listening. 

I saw the way she looked at that boy on the day they met, and I knew right then that things were going to change. Two different people from two different worlds is nothing but a recipe for heartbreak, and when the lies pile higher and higher, it can change a person into something they're not. 

It took me dying all those years ago to finally figure out just exactly how special my K'acy really is, and even though I'm not with her anymore, I don't want that boy and his family to change her. I want her to keep doing what's right, even when it hurts. 

Because that's who she is inside. That's her deeper kind of special. 

**This stand-alone novel from Claire Wallis is intended for readers age 17 and up.**
MY REVIEW:
So this was much different than the previous two books I had read by Wallis. Push and Pull. Check those out too! Where those books started out pretty intense and kept me on my toes, this book is more laid back and chill and had a much slower build. The POV felt a bit all over the place if I'm being honest. It was definitely unique in that it bounces back and forth between the main character K'acy, her dead father George, and various former residents at the nursing home where she works, all right before they died. I wasn't sure how to feel about the POV's going back and forth, both in time and between people. At times I felt like I could see why that was inserted, but at other times I felt like it took away from the overall plot of the book. It's fair to say that by the end of the story it all wraps up together to make more sense.

Here's what you need to know. K'acy is a bassist in a local Philadelphia funk band that plays around town a couple nights a week. She also works at a nursing home called Pine Manor as an aide. She has an interesting connection with seeing death in someone's eyes, seeing when death is near and how much they'll suffer. So in that you could say there's a supernatural aspect to the story. K'acy is extremely warm, kind, and nurturing to the elderly patients. She decides to use her gift as a way to bring comfort to those that many have otherwise forgotten about. It doesn't matter how they lived their life or what their story was before, even if they weren't a "good" person...she just knows she has to be there for them now for their ending. To be the one to show compassion and offer a sense of forgiveness. She seems to have a bit of a savior mentality but perhaps without the arrogance. Though it struck me that there's some delusion in her thinking of using her gift to an extreme. You'll have to read the story to find out more.

Her favorite patient at Pine Manor is Ms. Sinclair, who has alzheimer's. In her six years working at Pine Manor, she has never seen any family members visit Ms. Sinclair. The only person Ms. Sinclair talks about is someone named "Bradley". Knowing how the minds of alzheimer patients work though, she could be referring to someone from her own childhood, or her husband or son, etc... No one can say for sure. Until one day a man shows up to see her named Adam. Adam and K'acy eventually form a friendship which leads to a deeper connection. Though K'acy has been warned to not develop relationships with patients or their families, she throws caution to the wind and proceeds to follow her heart and not her head...or the advice of her co-workers.

As in any good contemporary romance, there are always secrets. In this story there are definitely secrets both of Adam and of K'acy. Secrets are a recipe for disaster. My one major downside, I didn't feel as though I could relate very much to K'acy and because of that I didn't connect to the romance between her and Adam. For me, it just didn't quite hit my "feels" buttons.

Top 5 Favorite Quotes:
...where you come from or how much money you have in your wallet is not what makes you special. Cause special comes from the inside. Special comes from doing the right thing, every time. Every. Time. Without excuses or regrets.

"Life's too short for rainchecks."

"Black or white or pink or yellow or upside down and inside out, K'acy McGee - this is going to sound a hundred-and-one kinds of cheesy - but everything about you is right."

To be loved is a far more significant thing than anything else in this world, and to be loved by someone who doesn't share your blood is something to be treasured even more. Because that kind of love isn't given. It's earned.

Hearing someone means letting them give you a piece of their soul through a story or a thought. It doesn't mean you have to fix something, it just means you have to open your ears and your heart and try to understand who they are on the inside.

Language Rating: 2 (medium)
Mature Content Rating: 2 (medium)
Final Rating: 3.5 stars

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Post #116

Sunday Post is a weekly post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
Each week bloggers participate to share any books received and news from their week.

Click on the book cover to be taken to its Goodreads page.

~NO NEW BOOKS~
After last week's haul, I think a week off with no new books was VITAL!

RECAP OF WEEK:
SUNDAY:

MONDAY:

WEDNESDAY:

Thank you for the well wishes for my daughter's ankle injury and for the birthday wishes for me last Sunday! As an update on her, her volleyball coach asked me on Thursday if the school trainer could take a look at it. So we met with her after volleyball camp (which my daughter went to support her teammates even though she herself could not participate). Long story much shorter, her recommendation was for us to have it re-xray'ed. Basically her assessment was that 2 weeks post injury her ankle shouldn't still be as swollen as it was or as tender in so many places. So we have an appointment with an Orthopedic Sports Med Dr early Monday morning. We are praying there's no fracture and that she can start to put weight on it and begin to walk. I will say hearing what she had to say finally put a fire under my daughter to begin icing it in a bucket of ice water twice a day as her Daddy had been gently encouraging her to do...but his advice had gone unheeded. Since Thursday, this icing method has made the remaining swelling nearly go away and she's been able to do her PT exercises. 

Over the weekend my birthday celebration continued with my second family, my in-law's. We spent Saturday swimming and eating and enjoying being together. I'm super thankful for my in-law parents and siblings (one of which is Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know)!! Being in their family for 20 years has been a blessing! 

This is the last week of summer that we will have "off". It's called dead week for sports at my kids school so daughter has no practices and my son has a week off before two weeks of band camp begins.

2017 SERIES ENDERS READING CHALLENGE SIGN UP:
You can now join us for our 4th annual Series Enders Reading Challenge for 2017! Join anytime until December 15, 2017. We give away a gift card EVERY month to one lucky participant and we award a GRAND PRIZE at the end of the year. The more series enders book reviews you link up - the more entries you have to win. Come join us!



Enjoy your week!
Thanks for stopping by!
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