Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward Review

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege—and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal.... For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.
Amazon Link- http://amzn.to/1Shy0QO
My Thoughts:
4.5/5 Stars
* Thank you NAL for the ARC *

The Bourbon Kings was Southern Charm meets The Royals... It was classy with a whole lot of drama. This was my first read by J.R. Ward and I can now understand why everyone recommends her. The writing was top of the line and the story was intricately weaved and filled with angst, romance, and drama.
The overall gist of the story is that a wealthy family is not as well off as everyone thinks. Each family member is living in their own personal hell. Secrets are being revealed left and right and scandal is behind every door. The tension within the house is thick and the staff are just as intertwined in the plot as the family.
Lizzie is the head gardener and bourbon son, Lane's, ex-lover. What they have isn't on the surface though, it’s buried deep within layers of secrets and lies. They are finally getting their second chance at love and a darkness surrounds them. It's edgy, all consuming, and at times, just plain frustrating. My heart was quickly consumed by their fast paced roller coaster ride of a relationship.
The feel is what sucked me in.  I felt like I needed a big beautiful hat on my head and a mint julep in my hand. I could feel the air blowing as I read about the statuesque mansion and when things got dark… I could feel the egg shells cracking beneath my feet. It was a thrilling story that kept me hooked with all the intense mystery. While I loved the story a lot, I did feel that the ending was lacking depth. I think the biggest issue was that it was a lot of ideas being pushed into too few words. I would have liked to see certain parts better developed, with more definition. There were a lot of great scenes that were grazed upon and I just feel like they could have been amazing if fully explored.  
With all of that being said I think it was a GREAT  book that is a MUST READ. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

A voyage across the ocean becomes the odyssey of a lifetime for a young Irish woman. . . .

Ireland, 1912 . . .

Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again.

Chicago, 1982 . . .

Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her great-grandmother Maggie shares the painful secret about Titanic that she's harbored for almost a lifetime, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads both her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

Inspired by true events, The Girl Who Came Home poignantly blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic tragedy's impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.

4/5 Stars
I always love a good story with a bits of history and deep rooted romance. This one did not disappoint in that aspect. Maggie is a character that all readers will love and her romance with Séamus is understated, but beautiful. While it's not overly intimate, it's a classic love story about overcoming tragedy. I loved their journey, but I did have mixed feelings about Grace's story.
While I loved the historical aspect and Maggie, I wasn't a huge fan of Grace. There were multiple times I wanted to close the book during her parts, but the journal entries always pulled me back in. I know Grace was an important role in the story, but I just lacked any connection to her. Where with Maggie I felt the romance and emotion pouring off the pages... Grace's character wasn't as well developed. It wasn't until the end that I truly felt the importance of her. Speaking of an ending.... It was AMAZING! I wanted it to be true, but until it was written in ink I wasn't sure what would happen. It really answered all the questions I had.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. The history sucked me in with it's rawness and the romance consumed my heart. I was pulling for a happily ever after and I feel satisfied with the way everything came together. I definitely recommend this book to all readers that have a love for history. The story of the Titanic is very important and I loved how a fiction tale captured the essence of reality.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hit by Lorie Ann Grover

After receiving a full-ride scholarship to Mills College for Girls, it appears Sarah's future is all laid out before her that is until she walks into a poetry class led by Mr. Haddings, a student teacher from the nearby University of Washington. Suddenly, life on the UW campus seems very appealing, and Sarah finds herself using her poetry journal to subtly declare her feelings for Haddings. Convinced Mr. Haddings is flirting back, she sets off for school in the rain with a poem in her back pocket one that will declare her feelings once and for all.

Mr. Haddings has noticed Sarah's attention; the fallout from any perceived relationship with a student is too great a risk, and he has decided to end all speculation that morning.

But everything changes when Mr. Haddings feels a thud on his front bumper when he glances away from the road, and finds Sarah in the street with blood pooling beneath her."
3/5 Stars
The cover pulled me towards this read and surprisingly, the story was pretty good. It takes place over 3 days so not much happens, but what does is emotional, thought provoking, and a tad romantic in a poetic way. The writing was good and I loved the switching of POVs.
It's about a girl who gets hits by a car. She comes to realize that the person who did it is the guy she's been crushing on. While she struggles with her romantic feelings, new looks, and physical injuries... she also has to decide if she wants to forgive or not. It's a journey of self discovery and finding light in a dark situation.
It kind of reminded me of If I Stay by Gayle Forman in the sense that she's in a hospital drifting in and out of consciousness. She is left broken and confused after the accident. It takes a lot of truth and love to piece her back together again. 
I thought the Author did a great job painting vivid pictures in our mind. It was intense and even heartbreaking at times. I'm not going to say it was a great read, but it's definitely an enjoyable, quick story that I recommend to all.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Never Let You Go by Katy Regnery Review

In this modern retelling of “Hansel and Gretel,” 13-year-old foster children, Holden and Griselda, escape from their abductor after three years of brutal captivity and try to cross the Shenandoah River on foot. Tragically, one of them makes it to safety but the other is left behind.

Ten years later, Griselda’s boyfriend drags her to a fight club grudge match where her world is turned upside down when she watches Holden step into the ring.

Though the connection between them is fierce, bitter regret, simmering rage and a cache of physical and emotional scars lie between them, just as dangerous as the whitewater of the Shenandoah.

Never Let You Go is a story of fear and hope, defeat and survival, and two people - once profoundly broken – who discover that love is the only thing that can make them whole again.

This is a standalone novel inspired by Hansel & Gretel. New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to profanity, scenes of physical abuse and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18. (Note: children are not sexually abused in this book.)

(The next standalone a m o d e r n f a i r y t a l e novel, Ginger’s Heart, inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, will be released in Winter 2015/2016.)

AMAZON LINK- http://amzn.to/1MvhmLX
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
4/5 Stars
Never Let You Go was a beautifully crafted story. It was about two foster kids that were abducted. Together they faced verbal abuse and brutal beatings. They found comfort in one another, but eventually were separated and left with questions and broken lives. After years apart, fate reunites them and they find out the person they once knew is there, but buried deep beneath secrets and a new name. Their connection is still as strong as ever, but in order to find happiness, they have to face reality and reality is often ugly.
This story definitely surprised me. It was unique with lots of twists and turns. Just when I thought things were looking up, something happened and changed everything. I found the characters to be well developed and their story pulled at my heart strings. I personally loved the kidnapping retellings. The memories of their time spent together in that cellar felt so vivid and raw. It was tragic, but in some sick, twisted way it was also beautiful. I found their romance to be all consuming. I loved how they grew together and kept one another in their hearts even when they were apart. It was a heart breaking tale, but each word you read is worth it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this retelling of Hansel and Gretel. I have no complaints other than it felt a tad slow at times and the cover wasn't my favorite. Babies, children, and pregnant women are an instant turn off when I'm choosing books so... I'm definitely thankful to all the people that pushed me to look past the cover. It turned out to be a great read that I recommend to all!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Paperweight by Meg Haston

Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.

Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn't plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.

In this emotionally haunting and beautifully written young adult debut, Meg Haston delves into the devastating impact of trauma and loss, while posing the question: Why are some consumed by their illness while others embark on a path toward recovery?
AMAZON LINK: http://amzn.to/1EYRK4b

4/5 Stars
*Thank You Harper Teen for an Advanced Copy*
This book caught me off guard with it's deep rooted emotion and addicting storyline. I'm not usually keen on switching from past to present, but with this one, it worked. It added depth to the story and made me truly empathize with the lead character. Now I will warn you... Stevie is a tough character to like. She is selfish, troubled, and confused. Give it time though... Let the story progress and get ready to be surprised by many twists. In the end my heart was filled with Stevie love.
The writing in this book was great. I applaud the Author for tackling such an intense theme with poise and charm. Most of the scenes were intense, but she did throw in some witty parts that put a smile on my face. I particularly loved the swimming scene. It was the turning point for me... At that point, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
Overall, Paperweight is a story I recommend to all teen readers. It opens your eyes to a tough subject and shows you that in the darkest of times there is always a sliver of light.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
Between Shades of Gray grips your heart at page one and slowly begins to dig it's nails in with each page you turn. It's an emotional book about survival and how having hope can make a world of difference.
Lina and her family are deported and we get to experience the journey through paragraphs of words. Each sentence holds a certain punch and each tiny mark of punctuation pulls out a new emotion. It's not always pretty, but it's a story that's felt deep within the soul. I couldn't believe all that Lina went through. The way she was treated made me sick. To think that there are people out there that experienced the life in which these characters lived makes my heart hurt. It was an awful way of life and so many were lost during this historical time. Children, adults, women, and men... Some even lost their selves. They were broken down, stripped of all rights, and left with little dignity. It truly makes you appreciate the life you live and all of the privileges that you take for granted each day.
I can't say enough good things about this book. The writing was flawless and the story is one that is all consuming. I loved the way everything played out and I especially loved the quaint hints of romance. It wasn't an in your face love, but more of an I will do everything to protect you kind of love. It is definitely going on my all time favorites list. I recommend it to anyone that loves stories with an utter rawness that will leave you breathless at times.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent Review

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

AMAZON LINK- http://amzn.to/1KEiDmj
4.5/5 Stars

This book was rich in emotion and vivid in details. It crawled under my skin and tugged at my heart strings. It wasn't a story of redemption, but more of a bittersweet goodbye.

Agnes is convicted of murder and is sentenced to execution. She is sent to live with a family full of mixed emotions to wait out her final days. One daughter feels connected to her, the other despises her. The parents are stern, but slowly soften as time passes. A reverend is sent to be with her to help her find peace and during their meetings a beautiful, heartfelt story is told. Secrets are revealed and true closure is found.

It took me about a week to finish this one, which is long for me, but that's only because there was so much to take in. I loved it because it wasn't the typical story with the mushy romance. It's about life and how love can truly be ugly. It's a historical tale of how things came to be... a retelling of hardships and utter betrayal. It's not light hearted, with a happily ever after, so please if you are a sappy romantic, pass on this one. If want to be sucked into a story full of exquisite writing and mind bending plot, one click today!