Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Good Dog by Todd Kessler, A Review ★★★★★

The Good Dog

Amazon          Goodreads          Barnes and Noble
Books-A-Million          Book Depository


Book Description

Join Tako on an adventure as he makes a brave choice and proves that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. When little Ricky Lee finds a puppy on the side of the road, he takes him home and names him Tako. Ricky's parents say that they will allow Tako to stay only if he is a good dog and follows the 
rules--or it's off to the pound he goes! 

Tako wants more than anything to be a good dog and stay with Ricky, but when greedy Mr. Prichard hatches a plan to put the Lee family's bakery out of business, Tako has to break the rules to protect his new family. Will he be able to spoil Mr. Prichard's plan and be a hero, or will he end up in the pound?

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.


As an adult, I really enjoyed this book. The story is thoughtful and has a great message. The illustrations are adorable. I appreciate that it features a family who is not white (sorry, I can't think of the "politically correct" way to say that). As an educator, I believe it is important that (1) children see books that highlight other cultures and ethnicities and (2) that children see people who look like them in books in positive portrayals. This book definitely fits that.
For especially young children (3-6), I don't think they will grasp all of the messages in this book. They will cheer for Tako and recognize the villain for being a bad guy.  It certainly opens the door to discussions on how a community can support each other for younger students and for older students can delve into simple economics. 

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Revenge of the Cube Dweller: A Tanzie Lewis Novel by Joanne Fox Phillips, A Review ★★★★

Revenge of the Cube Dweller

Amazon          Goodreads          Barnes and Noble
Books-A-Million          Book Depository



Book Description

Tanzie Lewis used to have it all. The stylish wife of a successful oil executive at the top of the Houston social scene, she used to spend her days playing scratch golf or lunching with friends at the club. That was before she was dumped in favor of a beautiful younger woman and the global financial crisis wreaked havoc on her divorce settlement. Now, at 52, Tanzie finds herself depressed and alone in Tulsa, watching her waist size grow and her professional opportunities shrink, working as a minion for clueless bosses in the internal audit department of the Bishop Group. So what’s a “girlie” to do? Snoop!
Taking advantage of Bishop Group’s security weaknesses, she begins to unravel the intricate warp and woof of corporate fraud, manipulation, and a cover-up that enrages her. Avenging the death of innocent Houstonians after a massive pipeline explosion, and uncovering her own hidden talents for sleuthing and cleverly tampering with the system, Tanzie dishes out her own justice to get even—and to get a little something for herself!

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.


What a refreshing book to read! I found Tanzie to be easy to relate to - not because we share life experiences, but because she seemed so real. She was an average, flawed woman. Not flawed in drastic ways - just normal everyday ways. She was really honest with herself. This book was written in first person and sometimes I find that perspective to be .... shallow. Phillips writes very well and really drew me in to the story. 

By the time I finished the book, I had forgotten there was a subtitle to the book. It was left open for there to be other Tanzie Lewis books and I certainly look forward to reading more! If you are a fan of Kinsey Milhone, you'll like Tanzie Lewis!

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Married to a Rogue by Donna Lea Simpson, A Review ★★★★★

Married to a Rogue

Amazon          Goodreads          Barnes and Noble


Book Description

from NetGalley

From the author of The Earl of Hearts comes a Regency romance celebrating the witty and romantic world that fans of Georgette Heyer have fallen in love with.
Lady Emily Sedgely, separated from her husband and bored to distraction after years of solitude in the wilds of Yorkshire, is stirred by a sudden thirst for life and eagerly returns to London for the Season. Back in the swirl of society, she quickly warms to the attentions of an ardent young Frenchman—until a chance encounter with Baxter, her estranged husband, leaves her as confused as ever about her heart’s true longings.
Baxter, the Marquess of Sedgely, was given to dark moods and an uncertain temper that doomed his marriage. Finding relief in travel, he spent five years gallivanting the Continent and has now returned to London with a comely young mistress—and a dangerous secret. Cavalier about his safety, he discovers a far greater concern—for just one look at Emily stirs a realization that while his life may be in danger, it is his heart that faces a more immediate peril.
When Emily’s young French suitor arouses suspicions that he may not be all that he appears and a unknown assailant makes several attempts on Baxter’s life, the two are driven to protect each other and surrender to a passionate reawakening—and neither will rest until they are safely in the arms of the only person they’ve ever loved.
This books was originally published under the title Lady Delafont’s Dilemma.
Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.

I really enjoyed the story in Married to a Rogue. An estranged husband and wife falling in love again is super romantic and the ultimate second-chance at love telling. I liked Emily because it was evident that she was hurt by her marriage in the past but she dealt with it and found inner strength to move past it. Baxter at first is the typical Regency romance hero: egotistical and standoffish; yet he was so easy to root for from the beginning.
One thing that I think Simpson did well was show how the characters realized that they still loved each other and progressed towards a declaration throughout the majority of the book. Often this moment comes close to the end and feels very rushed. 

Overall I enjoyed this story very much and definitely think that it is a story I will enjoy reading again in a few years.  I am giving this book 5 stars not because it is brilliant writing (it is written well, don't get me wrong) but because I just love the story concept and how Simpson told it. It's almost as good as a friends falling-in-love setup.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Scarlett Says by Julie L. Cannon, A Review ★★★

Scarlett Says

Amazon          Goodreads          Barnes and Noble
Books-A-Million          Book Depository


Book Description

Scarlett O’Hara has an answer for everything . . . right? Gone with the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara isn’t perfect, but as far as 30-year-old literature lover Joan Meeler is concerned, Scarlett’s outspoken passion, strength, and 17-inch waist make up for her other shortcomings. In fact, Joan has grown quite fond of writing her advice blog in Scarlett’s devil-may-care tone. It gives her a voice and confidence she otherwise couldn’t muster. Nevermind that her writing muse is a fictional character. What would Scarlett say, for example, about Charles, one of Joan’s first and most devoted blog readers, who suddenly has Joan dreaming (and worrying) of a life—and love—outside of make-believe? Joan digs into her heroine’s mind, searching for something to calm her rising insecurities but discovers that Scarlett is surprisingly mute on the topic. Abandoned by her sole source of security, can Joan look elsewhere—even to God—to uncover the inner confidence she so desperately needs?

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.


This was a good book. It wasn't my favorite but I did enjoy reading it. Scarlett was -- neurotic -- in an almost lovable, quirky way. There were a few points where she kinda bugged me. However, I did highlight two great quotes:

"I've figured out a lot over the years, and one thing is that we humans teach other humans how to treat us by how we act and respond to them." (location 581)

"I keep to myself. I keep up a wall, a very courteous wall, but still a wall. No one knows me well, and I prefer it that way. (location 811)

Cannon does a decent job of writing a story about a young woman who is finding herself and the courage to connect with people around her.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Birthday Scandal by Leigh Michaels, A Review ★★★★

The Birthday Scandal


Book Description

The wealthy Duke of Weybridge knows that everyone loves a good surprise…and a good scandal. He has bounteous amounts of both for the guests—particularly for his nieces and nephew, Emily, Isabel, and Lucien—at his extravagant seventieth birthday ball. They think his promise to improve their lives means a generous stipend. But he’s got different gifts in mind: finding them the perfect matches. His task won’t be easy, because the Arden siblings have given up on love. 

Bachelor Lucien spends more time merrymaking than looking for a proper wife. His sister Emily, brokenhearted when her betrothal ended in disgrace, committed herself to an early spinsterhood. And Isabel’s marriage has been troubled from the moment it began—with a terrible betrayal on her wedding night. 

Though witty and strong-willed, the siblings are no match for their uncle’s wily machinations. And as the celebration approaches, his romantic scheming ignites illicit liaisons and irresistible temptations, sparking enough rumors to keep the ton abuzz until his next birthday.

Review

This was like getting 3 romance stories in one. Michaels did a wonderful job with this because even the secondary stories felt really well done and complete. Usually I don't feel like the author gives enough development to secondary stories but Michaels managed to develop them completely and they alsofelt> finished at the end of the book.

I don't want to give spoilers so I will just say that Leigh Michaels wrote another wonderful romance full of laughter and love.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Better Off Friends by

Better off Friends

Amazon          Goodreads          Barnes and Noble
Books-A-Million         Book Depository     


Book Description



For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?


Review


I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.

I really, really enjoyed this book. When I first marked it as read I rated it with 4 stars but now that I am writing my review, I am changing it to  5 stars. 

Right off the bat, the cover and title grabbed me. I always enjoy stories about friends who fall in love. This young adult romance handled this plot setting better than I expected. Typically with young adult books, teens fall in love but I am not always left with a sense that it is an everlasting love. Eulberg however, wrote a story with two wonderful characters that I actually believe will end up 20 years down the road, still "high-school sweethearts".

One of the things I really enjoyed was the story told from both Macallan's and Levi's points of view. It flowed seamlessly. Reading an eARC meant that there might have been some formatting issues which could make this setup difficult to follow; however, the use of the swing silhouette to mark each transition was ingenious (and cute). I also thought the writing style was refreshing (for me) as it felt like the couple was being interviewed for some Barbara Walters special-type show. It wouldn't work for very many books, but it definitely worked for this one. 

What made this book unique and really enjoyable was the fact that Macallan and Levi were truly just friends for many years before realizing that their friendship was more than that. 

The parents - another great part of this story. They aren't perfect, but they aren't portrayed as complete loser idiots either, which I really appreciated. 

I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Want to Know More


Other Books:
Prom and PrejudiceRevenge of the Girl with the Great PersonalityThe Lonely Hearts ClubTake a Bow

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Wedding Secret by Jeannie Moon, A Review ★★

The Wedding Secret by Jeannie Moon

Amazon          Goodreads          Barnes and Noble
Books-A-Million          


Book Description

Millionaire baseball player Kevin Rossi is quite a catch… 

Harper Poole’s Harvard MBA and killer instincts have made her a high-powered assistant at a software firm that generates billions. No one would ever guess she’s been keeping a secret: that she isn’t the trust fund baby everyone thinks she is, but was really raised in a trailer park in western Pennsylvania. Harper has a great life and has everything she wants—except love. But a one-night stand at a wedding with the bride’s brother can help take a girl’s mind off anything.

Kevin Rossi is a superstar major league catcher who can have any woman he wants. So when Harper discovers she’s pregnant after their one night of passion, she has no intention of making any demands on him. It will just be another secret to keep. But when the two meet again a year later, Harper wrestles with her choice—especially when her heart longs for the father of her baby…

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.



I'm not sure why I didn't enjoy this book. The plot was interesting but I just never really connected with the characters.

I gave this book: ★ 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Other Stories {Favorite Movies/TV Shows}


The Broke and the Bookish hosts this weekly meme. This week's topic focuses on other types of stories - favorite Movies or TV Shows

The Magic of Ordinary Days (2005) PosterThe Christmas Card (2006) PosterThe Lake House (2006) PosterBed of Roses (1996) Poster
1. The Magic of Ordinary Days. This is based on the book by Ann Howard Creel. It's wonderful.


2. The Christmas Card 

3. The Lake House

The Walking Dead (2010) PosterGrimm (2011) PosterCastle (2009) Poster
5. The Walking Dead - my husband just started telling me about what happened each week. I was pulled in by the social reactions. I hate the gore so end up closing my eyes for those parts.
6. Grimm - I heard my SIL and MIL talking about this so watched as much as I could on Netflix.
7. Castle - another show my MIL got me hooked on
American Ninja Warrior (2009) PosterSafe Haven (2013) PosterThe Man from Snowy River (1982) Poster
8. American Ninja Warrior
9. Safe Haven
10. The Man from Snowy River and the sequel Return to Snowy River

Bonus:
Because it's hard to just stop at 10....
Footloose (1984) PosterFootloose (2011) PosterJustified (2010) Poster

Footloose - both versions are really great. 1984     2011

Justified

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard, A Review ★★★★★

The Art of Arranging Flowers

Amazon          Goodreads          Barnes and Noble
Books-A-Million       


Book Description

A moving and eloquent novel about love, grief, renewal—and the powerful language of flowers.

Ruby Jewell knows flowers. In her twenty years as a florist she has stood behind the counter at the Flower Shoppe with her faithful dog, Clementine, resting at her feet. A customer can walk in, and with just a glance or a few words, Ruby can throw together the perfect arrangement for any occasion.

Whether intended to rekindle a romance, mark a celebration, offer sympathy, or heal a broken heart, her expressive floral designs mark the moments and milestones in the lives of her neighbors. It’s as though she knows just what they want to say, just what they need.

Yet Ruby’s own heart’s desires have gone ignored since the death of her beloved sister. It will take an invitation from a man who’s flown to the moon, the arrival of a unique little boy, and concern from a charming veterinarian to reawaken her wounded spirit. Any life can be derailed, but the healing power of community can put it right again.

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.

This book is the best book that I have read in 2014; I feel confident that it will remain at number 1 despite the fact that the year is only half over.

The opening sentence grabbed me right away and I could not put this book down. (I selected this book based on the title and cover and began reading without looking at the synopsis - not unusual way for me to select a book). Every character that Branard created was so well thought out and written. I adored them all. I identified with Ruby in many ways even though I have not had her life experiences.

This book touched me in a way that when I finished it, I literally had to be still and quiet for a good while. This is a book that makes you believe in the goodness of humanity, gives a gentle portrayal of grace and in the end, will leave you with a sense of hope and love (despite the tears shed).

Read this book. Even though I received an eARC of this book, I will be purchasing a copy for my permanent library. It was that good!

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Find Out More

This  is the first book published under the name Lynne Branard. She has published several other works under Lynne Hinton and Jackie Lynn.

You can find more information about the author, including her profile and other works, here:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Library Challenge - Reviewing Library Books

read
Reviewing Library Books - week of June 30. The topic of discussion this week asks if you review the library books you read and if so, any organization to it?

I prefer to read and view book reviews that are short and to the point. I don't like spoilers so I will either completely skip or scan reviews that are lengthy as I don't want to know any plot points. So those are the type of reviews that I tend to write as well. I started this year wanting to post reviews and ratings on Goodreads for the books I read and until the last three weeks I've done pretty well at doing so. It should be noted though that during the school year I wasn't visiting the library as often as we do during the summer (several times a week); most of the books I've reviewed in 2014 have not been library books. But I have been wrapped up in decluttering my house and reading when not doing that instead of writing reviews.
During June, the Yearathon challenge revolved around Rick Riordan. I started the Percy Jackson series and enjoyed it sooo much more than I thought I would, that I got really wrapped up in it. Instead of reviewing each book, I decided that I would write up a series review....which I still need to do.

Here are a few library books that I did review at Goodreads.
The Funeral DressMarshmallows for Breakfast by Dorothy KoomsonChasing Hope by Kathryn CushmanIn the Bag by Kate Klise
The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore
Marshmallows for Breakfast by Dorothy Koomson
Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman
In the Bag by Kate Klise

The Good Wife by Jane PorterUndressing Mr. Darcy by Karen DoornebosThe Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen
The Good Wife by Jane Porter
Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos
The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen

I notice that most of these books have made my Top Ten list for best books of the year so far.

And then some books I just rate such as these:

Junie B. Jones and the  Stupid Smelly Bus (Junie B. Jones, #1)The Jane Austen Book Club
Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park ★ = I liked it   
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler  ★ = I liked it   
Stuck in the Middle (Sister to Sister, #1)Age before Beauty (Sister-to-Sister, #2)Third Time's a Charm (Sister-to-Sister, #3)
Sister-to-Sister series by Virginia Smith ★ = I liked it   (books 1 & 2) ★ = It was okay (book 3) 

In looking back at what I've been reading for the last several months, I noticed that my reviews of library books tapered off when I discovered ARC books and began requesting those to read and review. Once I get caught up on those, I would like to strike a balance as I find it fun to just wander the rows at the library and wait for a title to grab my attention.