Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book Review: The Edge of Forever by Melissa E. Hurst

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Edge of Forever
Author: Melissa E. Hurst
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Pages: Paperback; 256
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Source: FFBC Blog Tours / Publisher
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of time travel, and sliding door type stories.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
In 2013: Sixteen-year-old Alora is having blackouts. Each time she wakes up in a different place with no idea of how she got there. The one thing she is certain of? Someone is following her.

In 2146: Seventeen-year-old Bridger is one of a small number of people born with the ability to travel to the past. While on a routine school time trip, he sees the last person he expected—his dead father. The strangest part is that, according to the Department of Temporal Affairs, his father was never assigned to be in that time. Bridger’s even more stunned when he learns that his by-the-book father was there to break the most important rule of time travel—to prevent someone’s murder.

And that someone is named Alora.

Determined to discover why his father wanted to help a “ghost,” Bridger illegally shifts to 2013 and, along with Alora, races to solve the mystery surrounding her past and her connection to his father before the DTA finds him. If he can stop Alora’s death without altering the timeline, maybe he can save his father too.

I honestly don't know how you can go wrong with a time-travel story. It doesn't matter how many times I read books like The Edge of Forever, I'm always so intrigued! What if you could go back and change the past? What if you had the power to save people, and stop bad things from happening? It's fascinating, and Melissa E. Hurst's take on this was no exception.

Told in the from the alternating perspectives of Alora and Bridger, this story picks up right away. Bridger lives in 2146, a time when the ability to travel through time has become a reality. Alora lives in 2013, our present day world. So what happens to make these two come together? Well, you'll have to read to find out. Suffice it to say that these two characters were extremely well done. I liked both their points of view. Bridger's rule following meshed beautifully with Alora's more rule-breaker mentality. I felt like they were rather realistic teenagers. I also love their interactions with one another. This story isn't too romance heavy, or too action heavy, it walks that slim line between the two.

Which brings me to the overall plot. The Edge of Forever is perfectly paced. From the moment I picked this up, there wasn't a part that felt slow. Hurst slowly unravels the story that surrounds her two characters, and brings in important points from each of their current worlds. The one point that I couldn't fully get behind was the world-building here. I wanted so much to immerse myself in Bridger's world. I wanted to see the future. Everything else fell into place, but I never felt like I knew where he was coming from. Hopefully there's more to come?

So, for a solid character build up and expert plotting, I'll happily give this book a four star rating. If you're a fan of time travel stories, this is one to add to your list! It's a quick, and enjoyable read. Well worth your time.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Feel Good Friday!

Happy Friday friends! Even though the work week has been short due to the holiday, I'm still very happy it's the end of the week. Weekends are for sleeping in, am I right?

I find myself getting jealous of my cat because he can sleep anywhere for any amount of time.  As an *almost* 7 month pregnant person now, sleeping comfortably is bit of a joke. Just once I'd like to be as comfortable as my 16lb ball of fur. Doesn't he look so peaceful?

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. I hope you are all having a fabulous week and reading some great books. Feel free to comment with some new recommendations for us!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Spotlight: The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope you had a fabulous holiday weekend and were able to spend some time enjoying the outdoors! This week we have an intriguing YA SciFi for your enjoyment. 

There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.

It’s the final days of earth, and sixteen-year-old Char is right where she belongs: in prison. With her criminal record, she doesn’t qualify for a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect earth’s survivors during the meteor strike that looks set to destroy the planet. Only a select few will be saved – like her mom, dad, and brother – all of whom have long since turned their backs on Char.

If she ever wants to redeem herself, Char must use all the tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they actually ever want to see her again, or not . . .

Amazon / B&N                     
Does this perhaps sound like something up your alley? Awesome! Click those lovely links below the book cover and get your book on.

On the last day of Earth, I couldn’t find my hairbrush. That probably seems like a silly thing to worry about, what with the imminent destruction of, well, everything, but my mom was always after me about my usual ratty ponytail. Normally, I’d ignore her. Or, if I were having a really bad day, I’d tell her what she could do with her hairbrush. But like I said, it was the last day of Earth. And I figured, since it was the last time she’d ever see me, I wanted it to go smoothly. I wanted her to remember me, if not fondly, then at least without anger.

A girl can dream.
I slipped out of my cell as soon as the door swung open. I’d done the same every day for the past month, and my family had yet to show up. Their OPT—Off-Planet Transport—took off in eighteen hours, so they still had time. Barely. I couldn’t blame them if they didn’t come. It wasn’t hard to imagine that they’d rather escape to the stars without so much as a backward glance at me, their big disappointment. Even my father’s influence couldn’t persuade the government to give me a spot on an OPT.

Turns out, when humankind is deciding which of its children to save, the last place it looks is in prison.

But I was pretty sure they’d come. West had said as much in his last transmission. The thought of my younger brother actually halted me mid-step, like one of those punches in the gut where you can’t breathe for a few seconds.

“Looking for something?” The lazy drawl floated out of the nearest cell.

Against my better instincts, I turned to see Cassa lying on her bunk, her arm draped across Kip. My Kip. Or at least, my ex-Kip. Whatever. In twenty-two hours, I wouldn’t have to think about him anymore.

See? Silver lining. And they called me a perpetual pessimist at my last psych workup.

They barely fit next to each other on the flimsy mattress, but that wasn’t the weird part. The guys’ ward was separated by a substantial metal wall. We were kept apart during evening hours, for obvious reasons. Not that anyone cared anymore. The med staff had been the first to go, followed by the cleaning crew, followed by the kitchen crew. To show you where girls like me fell on the government’s list of priorities, there was still a skeleton crew of guards lurking around, despite the fact that I hadn’t had a real meal for going on a week. The guards would be gone soon, too, and then there’d be no one in here but us chickens.

I figured either Kip had a key, or the guards had left already. A key could be useful. My curiosity got the best of me. “How’d he get in here before the first bell?”

He cocked an eyebrow. “I got some tricks you ain’t seen, babe. Why don’t you join us? End of the world and all.”

The guards were gone, then. I felt a small trill of anxiety deep in my chest. If the guards were gone, my family was even less likely to show. But it was never smart to show fear. “The Pinball could be headed straight for this building, and I still wouldn’t be desperate enough to touch you. Oh, wait. Guess you don’t have to take my word for it.”

I turned to leave, but he continued. “Now is that any way to treat your dear ole partners? Be nice or I won’t give you back your stuff.”

“Ugh, you were in my room?” I flexed my shoulder blades, making sure my gun was still tightly secured between them.

“Don’t worry, Char. I didn’t handle the merchandise. Didn’t want to wake you up. Just lifted me a few keepsakes.” He pronounced my name the way I like: Char, as in charred. Something that got burned.

I wasn’t sure what Kip and Cassa were planning, but I knew I wouldn’t like it. They were thieves and liars. I would know. I used to be one of them. That was before the last job, when Cassa had attacked an elderly man in the home we were robbing. She’d kicked him until he stopped fighting back. Kip had called her off after a few licks, but I just stood there, staring. The old man looked at me, like right at me, while we made our getaway, and my stomach twisted into a knot so tight that I tasted bile. That was the moment I knew I wanted out.

But by then, no one believed me. Or, if they did, no one cared. Except for Kip and Cassa, of course. They’d taken the news pretty hard, to put it lightly.

If I lunged for the box, I could probably grab my hairbrush and get out of there. I wouldn’t have time for more than that. Then again, I’d be doing exactly what they expected, and I didn’t have time for delays. My family could be in the commissary any second now.

“Ahem. Seeing as it’s your last day of life, I might let you have one thing back,” said Kip.

“In exchange for what?”

“I’m hurt. All our time together, and you still don’t believe in my inherent generosity. But now that you mention it, I’ve got a hankering for some peanut butter crackers.”

“Sorry, Kip. I’m fresh out of food. Kinda like everyone else.”

“Nice try, Charrr.” He drew my name out, as though tasting it. “I saw them yesterday. Figured you were hiding them under your pillow when I couldn’t find them last night.”

“You figured wrong.”

All I could think about was my brother’s face. And how I had this one last chance to apologize to my parents, for everything. I shrugged and turned to leave.
Laura Liddell Nolen grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent lots of time playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. They supplemented their own stories with a steady diet of space- and superhero-themed movies, books, and television. The daughter of a comic book collector, she learned how to handle old comics at an early age, a skill she’s inordinately proud of to this day.
 Laura began work on her first novel, The Ark, in 2012, following the birth of her daughter Ava, a tiny rebel and a sweetheart on whom the novel’s main character is loosely based. Completion of The Ark was made possible in part due to an SCBWI Work-in-Progress Award.

Laura loves coffee, dogs, and making lists. She has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two young children, and their dog Miley, who is a very good girl.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Book Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: Hardcover; 256
Release Date: January 2, 2012
Source: NetGalley
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy sweet romance coupled with a bittersweet teenage life.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
Four minutes changes everything. Hadley Sullivan 17 misses her flight at JFK airport, is late to her father's second wedding in London with never-met stepmother. Hadley meets the perfect boy. Oliver is British, sits in her row. A long night on the plane passes in a blink, but the two lose track in arrival chaos. Can fate bring them together again?

Okay, are you ready for some gushing? You'd better be, because this book absolutely blew me away. Maybe it's because I haven't read a really good contemporary book in a while. Maybe it's because I've been in an overly sappy mood lately. It doesn't matter. The fact remains that this book stole my heart, and had me sighing happily at the end.

Lest you think that this is a plain and simple case of instalove, let me assure you right now that this isn't the case. You can trust me when I say that I'd be the first one to complain about that. While this is definitely an instant attraction, the relationship that builds is slow and sweet. I think I might have a bit of an obsession with adorable British boys too and, well, that comes into play here.

My favorite part of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight though was the thin line it walked between sweet and somber. This isn't just a mushy romance. It has depth. Both of our characters are dealing with things that aren't exactly pleasant, and their chance meeting is the one thing that holds them together. Sometimes when YA characters are dealing with family issues, I shake my head and roll my eyes. It's hard not to see them as obnoxious. In this case, both of them were so honest about everything. I had to go through a divorce with my family too, and I know how hard it is to deal. I understood.

Vague review, I know. Still, you can rest assured that I am only doing it for your own good! This is a sweet book. It's a quick read. It's full happy sigh moments, slight teary moments, and big smiles. If you're looking for something to get lost in for a bit? I recommend this.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

All Souls Trilogy - Paperback Launch and Giveaway!

It's time for another awesome book spotlight and giveaway!

This one I'm particularly excited about, because I actually just recently started the All Souls Trilogy on audio. As a newbie to the books, I can tell you that they're stellar! Amazing story-telling, the perfect amount of romance, and enough juicy historical details to sink your teeth into.

As it turns out, the final book in the All Souls Trilogy, The Book of Life, is releasing in paperback on May 29, 2015. Which means you'll be able to get your hands on this gorgeous paperback set.

Pre-Order at Amazon and B&N!

In honor of this release, please enjoy this Q&A excerpt with Deborah Harkness, and then scroll to the bottom for your chance to win a paperback copy of The Book of Life and some fun swag!

Q: In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research. What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading THE BOOK OF LIFE? There’s quite a bit more lab work in this book!

A. There is. Welcome back to the present! What I hope readers come to appreciate is that science—past or present—is nothing more than a method for asking and answering questions about the world and our place in it. Once, some of those questions were answered alchemically. Today, they might be answered biochemically and genetically. In the future? Who knows. But Matthew is right in suggesting that there are really remarkably few scientific questions and we have been posing them for a very long time. Two of them are: who am I? why am I here? 

Q: Much of the conflict in the book seems to mirror issues of race and sexuality in our society, and there seems to be a definite moral conclusion to THE BOOK OF LIFE. Could you discuss this? Do you find that a strength of fantasy novels is their ability to not only to allow readers to escape, but to also challenge them to fact important moral issues?

A. Human beings like to sort and categorize. We have done this since the beginnings of recorded history, and probably well back beyond that point. One of the most common ways to do that is to group things that are “alike” and things that are “different.” Often, we fear what is not like us. Many of the world’s ills have stemmed from someone (or a group of someones) deciding what is different is also dangerous. Witches, women, people of color, people of different faiths, people of different sexual orientations—all have been targets of this process of singling others out and labeling them different and therefore undesirable. Like my interest in exploring what a family is, the issue of difference and respect for difference (rather than fear) informed every page of the All Souls Trilogy. And yes, I do think that dealing with fantastic creatures like daemons, vampires, and witches rather than confronting issues of race or sexuality directly can enable readers to think through these issues in a useful way and perhaps come to different conclusions about members of their own families and communities. As I often say when people ask me why supernatural creatures are so popular these days: witches and vampires are monsters to think with.

Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, and the secrets contained in the manuscript are at long last revealed in THE BOOK OF LIFE. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation. What was the story behind your discovery? And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?

A. I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.

Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list and Shadow of Night debuted at #1. What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for the All Souls Trilogy? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?

A. It has been amazing—and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who have a considerable number of quirks and challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. And I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan—to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in the world of the Bishops and de Clemonts. Sometimes when I meet readers they ask me how their friends are doing—meaning Diana, or Matthew, or Miriam. That’s an extraordinary experience for a writer.

Up for grabs is one paperback copy of The Book of Life, and a set of All Souls Trilogy themed buttons!

Enter via rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends 5/29/15 at 8:00 pm PST.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Someday Beach by Jill Sanders

Do you know what your Tuesday needs? Some romance. Oh yes, nothing makes a Tuesday better than a little bit of romance. You're in luck too, because today's spotlight is on Someday Beach by Jill Sanders. I just love stories where two people put one another back together.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Shelly has always dreamed of going back to Surf Breeze. When she finally sets out on her own and buys a run down building along the popular boardwalk, she hires a sexy, but annoying contractor to help her turn it into her dream boutique. What she hadn’t counted on was finding herself slowly changing with her surroundings. Fighting against an overbearing family, she’ll learn to not only follow her own dreams, but stand up for something she believes in.

Marcus has been waiting his whole life for a woman who could see through the horrors he’d been through as a child, and the humor he uses to mask it all. Now that he found her, he’s not quite sure what comes next.
“You’ve got a nice space here.” He looked out at her view. The boardwalk was below them and he watched for a moment as people strolled by. Beyond that was a long strip of beach and then the emerald water. It was a calm day and barely any waves rippled the water, which made it look green for as far as the eye could see.

He turned towards her and noticed that some soft strands of her blonde hair had fallen around her face. She had either forgotten to put on makeup that morning or had very little on. Her skin looked so soft, he itched to reach out and touch it. His eyes roamed over her and he couldn’t deny the sudden and powerful tug he got from looking at her curves. She was taller than most women he’d dated. He gauged her height around five-eight. The old jeans she was wearing were snug in all the right places, making him wish he could run his hands over those long legs.

When she turned her eyes towards him, catching him in his assessment of her, he couldn’t stop the smile.

“Beautiful view,” he said, softly.

Jill Sanders is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Pride Series, Secret Series and West Series romance novels. Having sold over 150,000 books within 6 months of her first release, she continues to lure new readers with her sweet and sexy stories. Her books are available in every English speaking country, audiobooks, and are now being translated to 6 different languages.

Born as an identical twin to a large family, she was raised in the Pacific Northwest, later relocating to Colorado for college and a successful IT career before discovering her talent as a writer. She now makes her home along the emerald cost in Florida where she enjoys the beach, hiking, swimming, wine-tasting, and of course writing.

Find Jill:
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Release Blitz: Peachy Keen by Kate Roth

Happy Monday dear readers! Today we have a hot new release to share with you, which also happens to be on sale! Woohooo!

Georgia Trenton has always been lucky in lust but hasn’t ever been interested in love. She prefers quickies to courtships, never seeing the need for more than just sex.

Years of listening to her best friend Danielle’s relationship woes had assured her she was right to avoid romance altogether. But ever since Dani returned from vacation in love and looking like the poster girl for happily ever after with her new boyfriend Evan Weston, Georgia has been questioning her wild ways and thinking about the future.

In an attempt to forget about the uncertainties that plague her and escape the constant symphony of sex noises coming through the walls of her apartment thanks to Evan and Danielle, Georgia jets off to Desire Resort & Spa hoping to enjoy the rowdy vacation hotspot the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

No strings attached. No commitments. And with one sexy stranger…no names.

But when strings appear, complicating what was supposed to be a carefree getaway, and commitment suddenly doesn’t sound as bad as it used to, Georgia finds herself wondering if lust is really enough
Isn't that cover just gorgeous? I just want to lay on a beach right now. While Peachy Keen can be read a standalone, I highly recommend picking up the whole series, which all are on sale in celebration of the release! (links below)  I don't really know how you could ask for more but, in case you are, all of Kate Roth's books are on sale for just $0.99 as well!

Publisher: Kate Roth Writes | Pages: 186  | Release Date: May 18, 2015
Grab it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble 


Grab it: Kobo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | iBooks
Grab it: Kobo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | iBooks
Grab it: Kobo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | iBooks

Kate Roth: Author of The Low Notes, The Confession Records Collection and the Desire Resort series

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Review: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Hold Me Like a Breath
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: Hardcover; 400
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Source: FFBC Blog Tours / Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love their romance with a background of intrigue.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

So let me premise this review with the fact that I actually read a fair amount of pre-publication reviews for this book before signing up for this tour. I knew, going in to Hold Me Like a Breath, to expect a pretty fair amount of romance and not as much action as the synopsis implies. I was prepared for the instant attraction that happens, and actually welcomed it when it did. I'm only adding this in on the off chance that you, dear reader, might be blindsided. Think romance, with the background of a crime family, and you'll be okay.

Penelope's story was an interesting one. As a very fragile person, she was so separated from all the intrigue and danger that the rest of her family faced every day. I'll admit that it took me a while to warm up to her. I had to remind myself that Pen's life was very sheltered. It's hard to form a strong, no-nonsense personality when people keep telling you what you are and should be. That being said, Pen soon grew on me. I saw the quiet battles she fought, and I respected her for them. I only wished there was more of her story once she came into her own.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a fan of insta-love. Which, to be honest, is mainly my reason for a three star rating. I liked Penelope, loved Garrett, and was totally on board with most of the premise. It was that darn insta-love, which then migrated into a love triangle, that just didn't sit well with me. Again, I did my best to let it go. Penelope's character is interesting in that I feel like she deserves a bit of a pass for things like these. She is a little naive at times.

For the two twists that I was absolutely not expecting, and for a very interesting story backdrop, I'll happily offer up three stars for Hold Me Like a Breath. This seems like it's the first in the series, which is great! I feel like towards the end Penelope was starting to come out of her shell, and I'd love to see what she does with her new found fierceness.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Review: The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Daylight Marriage
Author: Heidi Pitlor
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: Hardcover; 256
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source: Publisher / Netgalley
Genre: Mystery Thriller

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are interested in reading about a family's struggle to cope after an unexpected event.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes

Hannah was the kind of woman who turned heads. Tall and graceful, naturally pretty, often impulsive, always spirited, the upper-class girl who picked, of all men, Lovell--the introverted climate scientist, the practical one who thought he could change the world if he could just get everyone to listen to reason. After a magical honeymoon they settled in the suburbs to raise their two children.

But over the years, Lovell and Hannah’s conversations have become charged with resentments and unspoken desires. She’s become withdrawn and directionless. His work affords him a convenient distraction. The children can sense the tension, which they’ve learned to mostly ignore. Until, after one explosive argument, Hannah vanishes. And Lovell, for the first time, is forced to examine the trajectory of his marriage through the lens of memory--and the eyes of his children. As he tries to piece together what happened to his wife--and to their lives together--readers follow Hannah through that single day when the smallest of decisions takes her to places she never intended to go.

With the intensity of The Lovely Bones, the balance of wit and heartbreak of The Descendants, and the emotional acuity of Anne Tyler’s work, The Daylight Marriage is at its heart a novel about what happens when our intuitions override our logic, with a page-turning plot that doesn’t reveal its secrets until the very end.

I must admit, this didn't feel very much like a "thriller" or mystery for me. Perhaps I'm just a good guesser, but there weren't any moments that surprised me or caught me off guard. The story evoked a lot of emotions, heartbreak and empathy for the characters being the top two.

This is one of those stories that feels too real. A marriage in trouble, the heartbreak of a teenagers grief, realizing too late how important someone is to you....all of the feels. Heidi Pitlor writes a harrowing tale of a family dealing with a tragic circumstance. You get insight into life before the incident and the aftermath as alternate perspectives fill in the details of the life of this family.

The characters are raw and flawed and while it was a very well written story, it is not what I would expect from a thriller. I finished this book feeling depressed, and with the reminder to appreciate the people in my life. To stop once in a while and check in with a parent, partner, child etc because you never know how quickly life can change.

If you enjoy life-like stories about an ordinary family put in a tragic situation, then I recommend this.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Review: The Predictions by Bianca Zander

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: The Predictions
Author: Bianca Zander
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: Paperback; 400
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source: Publisher / TLC Book Tours
Genre: General Fiction

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are interested in the life of a young girl who grew up in a commune, and the life she goes on to lead as an adult.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
From the author of the acclaimed The Girl Below comes a stunning novel of one woman’s attempt to outrun the destiny that is predicted for her, moving from a remote New Zealand commune in the waning days of 1970s free-love experimentation to the heady music scene of 1980s London.

Gaialands, a bucolic vegan commune in the New Zealand wilderness, is the only home fifteen-year-old Poppy has ever known. It’s the epitome of 1970s counterculture—a place of free love, hard work, and high ideals…at least in theory. The reality is complicated and sometimes fraught, especially as its children reach adolescence. Poppy is drawn to handsome sixteen-year-old Lukas, who’s increasingly skeptical of Gaialands and the adults who shape its rules.

To help ‘heal’ the commune’s energy, new arrival Shakti harnesses her divination powers in a Predictions ceremony. All of Gaialands’ teenagers receive a card outlining their futures. Poppy, predicted to find her true love overseas, joins Lukas when he follows his dream of starting a punk rock band first in Auckland and then on to London, where punk has given way 80s pop and hair metal. Struggling simply to survive as they navigate the city’s squats, pubs, and burgeoning clubs, she and Lukas drift apart. Poppy finds a life that looks very like the one her prediction promised, but is it the one she truly wants? And if not, can she define her own happiness, even if it takes her in unanticipated directions?

The Predictions is a mesmerizing, magical novel of fate, love, mistakes, and finding your place.

So, truth be told, I'm still not entirely sure where I stand with The Predictions. When I saw the synopsis, the word "commune" jumped out at me. I've always had a fascination with communes and cults. Obviously they aren't the same thing, but the simple idea of living together with so many other people, of relying on all those people, fascinates me. What is it like? I hoped this book might tell me.

Now, and this is entirely my fault, I didn't quite grasp the fact that Bianca Zander's book focused on a New Zealand commune in the 1970's. Not only was I out of my element in terms of the era, but some of the wording caught me off guard too. It took me almost 50 pages to finally sink into Poppy's world. To see the commune as more than just a group of strangers. I found myself with that weird dilemma of not exactly feeling connected, but still wanting desperately to try.

That being said, once Poppy left the commune and fled to London I was thrilled. This was the portion of the book that I really enjoyed. Watching her come into her own. Following her as she would seek out love, make mistakes, and just live her life. Zander did a great job weaving together Poppy's past and present. It was a wonderful reminder that we never truly leave our old selves behind.

While the ending wasn't as satisfying as I would have liked, overall The Predictions ended up being a solid read. I'd never read a book like this before. The concepts of communal breastfeeding, and public nudity made this an interesting ride for me. I like pushing against those comfortable reading walls I hide in sometimes though, and so I'm glad I gave this a shot.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It must be a May thing.

So as I was doing my usual evening run-through of internet happenings, I realized that this poor blog hasn't been touched since last Thursday. Our apologies, dear readers. It must be a May thing.

See, last May I had to give up blogging for the entire month. Things were too hectic, life was too scattered, and adding one more thing to my plate felt like a chore. While things definitely aren't that bad this year, I will say that for some reason this seems to be a pretty crazy month!

My lovely co-blogger is currently quite pregnant, and very busy with work. I'm doing my best to fit reading in wherever I can (especially since this week is Bout of Books!) and review when I remember. Alas, this blog has taken a bit of a hit this month.

Fear not! We're still here! You can find us all over the internet, and if you happen to be a BookLikes member you'll see me posting over there constantly. Things may be a little slow on this blog for this month, but they'll pick back up. They always do.

Much love, and happy reading!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Review: Deep Blue Eternity by Natasha Boyd

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Deep Blue Eternity
Author: Natasha Boyd
Publisher: Self
Pages: Kindle; 356
Release Date: March 26, 2015
Source: Purchased
Content Screening: Adult Language; Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy redemption stories and dark topics

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes

Livvy is on the run. And she’s escaped to the one place nobody will ever find her.

But the isolated cottage isn’t empty. Her refuge is home to a troubled stranger, Tom, there for reasons of his own.

In the intimacy of the abandoned cottage, and the remote wilderness of Daufuskie Island, off the Carolina coast, the electrifying connection between them is impossible to ignore. Both running from their histories and shielding dark secrets, their pasts catch up with them and collide in an unimaginable way.

Deep emotions and powerful chemistry face a painful battle with the tangle of lies, and scars of the past. When the truth emerges, hearts will be shattered.
Natasha Boyd is quickly becoming one of my favorite romance authors. Her characters are real, flawed and easy to relate to. Once again she has exceeded my expectations. This beautifully crafted novel is a harrowing tale of facing your demons and learning to love yourself and another person.

My heart ached for Livvy, the main character, as I was taken through her painful history of loss and abuse. Boyd addresses these serious issues with tact and grace, giving just enough detail to break your heart. Being a part of Livvy's story of finding redemption and strength helped put the pieces back together. She still wasn't perfect and continued to fight her demons throughout the story which I appreciated. Healing takes time, a lot of time, and Livvy's story was beautifully raw.

Tom was equally deep in his own despair. I really enjoyed his characters growth and development throughout the story. Boyd gives us tidbits into his past without revealing too much until the poignant moments. I found myself going back through his dialogue to make sure I absorbed every bit of it.

The supporting cast of misfits fit the story perfectly and enhanced the experience for me. They were everything I hope for in a good book. I finished this in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend picking up this book.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
Author: Kelly Jones
Illustrator: Katie Kath
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: Hardcover; 224
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Young readers who love vibrant young heroines, or any readers interested in chickens!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
Fans of Polly Horvath or Roald Dahl will love this quirky story of a determined girl, and some extraordinary chickens.

Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entirehenhouse....

And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.

Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, Unusual Chickens is a quirky, clucky classic in the making.

I have to say, this book is rather adorable. Although a lot of the middle grade novels I read are steeped in magic, Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer would probably fall under magical realism. Sophie's family feels real. They've fallen on hard times, and are trying to adapt to living in a new place. All Sophie wants is something to cling to. Something to call her own. Enter the magic, interestingly enough, in the form of chickens.

Sophie gets my love as a narrator. This story is told in a series of letters, which are almost like her diary entries. See, Sophie tends to write to her grandmother and her uncle. Both of whom have passed away. It's as though writing to them helps her feel connected, and figure things out. I loved this part. Seeing her thoughts on paper and feeling her emotions made this a great read. After all, we're most honest when we don't think anyone else will see what we write.

The magical aspect of this is what didn't really catch my attention. While it was cute, it felt a little too juvenile for my taste. That's not to say young readers won't love it. In fact, I'm certain they will. It's definitely a breath of fresh air to see a young girl interested in farming and the outdoors. One who understands hard work, and isn't afraid to try. Although it didn't vibe with me, I see Sophie being a great role model for younger readers! She's a sweetheart.

So, three stars it is! If you have a young reader with an interest in chickens, this would be a great book to give them. There are little pieces of information about each chicken featured, some fun worksheets on how to care for them, and even a recipe (don't worry, not for chicken) thrown in. Overall, it's a cute package. Enjoy!

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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