Monday, November 21, 2011

Beautiful Disaster

When I picked up this book, I didn’t expect it to be anything special.  When I turned the last page and flipped off my Kindle at 2 a.m., I realized how wrong I was! This book was definitely not what I expected!  The overused adage, “never judge a book by its cover” holds true once again.  (This cover completely threw me off!)   Jamie McGuire shares a tale of college fight nights, gambling, the Mob, tattoos, drinking, love, and a girl whose only wish is to not turn out like her parents.

Let’s break it down…


After moving to escape her past and attend Eastern University, Abby tries to be the good girl and turn her life around.  When she meets the campus bad boy, can she stay on the right track?  


Possessive, gorgeous, tattooed, and practically worshipped, Travis “Mad Dog” Maddox is the bad boy every girl dreams about.  Known for his underground fighting and one-night stands, everyone is surprised when Travis begins showing real interest in Abby.  


A rich fraternity boy, Parker is determined to win Abby over.  Only time will tell if Parker will give Abby the life she thought she wanted.  


As Abby’s best friend, America felt it was her duty to follow Abby and make sure she stayed true to who she wanted to be.  When the unexpected transpires, she tries to help Abby understand that sometimes, it’s better to follow you heart instead of your plan.


America’s boyfriend and Travis’ cousin, Shep is always stuck in the middle.  This time, Travis may inadvertently ruin his one true chance at love.


Writing Style    8/10
Characters        9/10
Storyline           8.5/10

OVERALL     8.5/10

I highly recommend this title to those who enjoy a young adult read!  This is a fabulously, albeit overly dramatic, written romance with surprises at every corner!

*This book is for mature readers*

*Kindle users:  Get it here*  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Every Last One

I recently started a new business (The Tasty Cupcakery).  Although I always find time to read, I have not been able to find the time to blog!  Things will settle down soon and I promise I'll get back to reviewing!  Until then, here is a short one to hold you over ;)

Anna Quindlen's Every Last One: A Novel (Hardcover)(2010)When I started this book, I randomly chose it and I had no idea what it was about.  It didn't take me long to finish the first half and I really enjoyed it... then BAM!  Like a slap in the face!  Half the characters I had grown to love were gone!    I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish the book... but I can't not finish a book.

And, I am SO glad I did.

I'm not going to "break this one down" like I normally do because I don't want to give too much away.  But, I will say I highly recommend this book.  Every Last One is a very sad tale about tragedy striking an average family.  It is beautifully written and sure to make you think.  I know I've said this in the past about books, but this story made me want to hold my babies and never let them go.  (Needless to say, if you're in the mood for something light and funny, this is not the book for you.)   


Writing Style    9/10
Characters        9/10
Storyline           9/10

OVERALL      9/10

*Kindle users:  Get it here*   
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Something Borrowed

Something BorrowedIn the interest of full disclosure, I should start off by saying I don't really enjoy reading this type of book.  I don't care who wrote it or how funny/sad/awesome/well written/etc it is.  I don't care if it is the number one best seller for a year.  If it's about an affair, it's just not my cup of tea.  With that being said, I can now tell you it took me longer than usual to read Something Borrowed.  It just seemed to go on and on and on...  Her writing is decent; however, she went off on rants about things that really weren't crucial to the plot and only made for a long read. 

Emily Giffin weaves a tale of lies, deception, best friends, new friends, and lovers.  Rachel is the maid-of-honor in Darcy's upcoming wedding.  She spends her time picking out gowns and favors, planning a bachelorette party, and... stealing the groom. 

Let's break it down...

A thirty year old lawyer, Rachel lives and works in New York City.  She spends all her free time being the best friend, never getting to be anyone's first choice, the prettier one, or even the smarter one.  Darcy always has to be in the spotlight.  When Rachel and Dex (Darcy's fiance) have a little too much to drink one night and end up alone in her studio apartment... Rachel finds out she may be someone's first choice after all. 

All things in life come easily for Darcy, a late twenties, high maintenance, beautiful, and bossy city girl.  She enjoys being in charge of everyone around her and despite what she does to others, she never suspects someone close to her would ever betray her. 

Rachel's friend from law school and Darcy's fiance, Dex is a very handsome and extremely confused man.  He likes Darcy enough to put a ring on her finger, but apparently not enough to remain faithful.   
After meeting at work, Hillary and Rachel quickly become the best of friends.  Although she initially encourages Rachel's escapades with Dex, she later gets annoyed when Dex doesn't seem to have plans to call off the wedding. 


Writing Style    5/10
Characters        5/10
Storyline           5/10

OVERALL      5/10

Honestly, if I had it to do over, I would likely skip this one.  BUT, if you're into this kind of story, you may want to add it to your poolside reading list. 

*Kindle users:  Get it here*   
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

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Monday, June 27, 2011


Room: A NovelTold through the eyes of a five year old, Room is a disturbing story of a woman kidnapped and held against her will.

Jack is born in an 11 foot square shed.  He spends his first five years of life there and is led to believe that shed is the entire world.  His friends are spoons and eggshells and books.  His Ma is only trying to protect him, but in the grand scheme of things, she only makes his life far more confusing.

Let's break it down...

Extremely intelligent in some ways and far behind in others, Jack is a sweet, befuddled, and often scared child that will surely steal your heart.  In his small world, the most important things are "having some" (breastfeeding), Phys Ed (exercising), and Dora (picked up on a small TV with bunny ears).  His days are so full; he never even realizes they are being held in captivity. 

Despite having conceived and birthed Jack under far less-than-perfect circumstances, she loves him so completely.  Her only goals are to keep him safe and find a way for them to escape.  When Jack starts asking questions (and refusing to believe the answers), she knows she must tell him the truth and begin devising a plan. 

Old Nick
The man who is holding them captive, Old Nick is the grocery getter, trash man, and bed creaker to Jack.  When things don't go exactly his way, he punishes Ma and Jack in cruel ways, such as cutting the power to the shed.  When Ma finds out Old Nick has been laid off, she is terrified of what will happen next and knows they must find a way out.   


Writing Style  9/10
Characters      9/10
Storyline         9/10

OVERALL      9/10

Emma Donoghue's Room is both brilliant and terrifying... A must-read novel!

*Kindle users:  Get it here*   
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

This Fine Life

This Fine Life: A NovelA story that showcases not only the relationships between husband/wife and parent/child, but also the love God has for his children, This Fine Life is a magnificent exhibit of Eva Marie Everson's writing abilities.

The narrator, Mariette, tells her husband’s story of falling in love, working hard, and being called to the ministry in this tale that is sure to keep you turning page after page.  Throughout the chapters, you also read her firsthand account of the struggles of being a pastor’s wife while still searching for the deep-rooted faith she saw in others.  I was pleased to find the ending to be one of the more satisfying of any book I’ve read recently!

Let’s break it down…

After graduating from a boarding school in 1958, Mariette must decide what to do with the rest of her life.  Her father, a wealthy businessman, wants her to continue her education, while her mother, a housewife, insists that no man wants to take a wife that may very well be smarter than he is.  Mariette is torn, but promises her daddy she’ll have an answer for him by summers end.  When Thayne walks into her life, she instantly knows what she wants… and that her parents will never let it be.   

A part time college student and worker at Fox & Hound Manufacturing Company (owned by Mariette’s father), Thayne has been sent to live with his aunt after some rather troubling high school years.  He never expects to fall in love with the boss’s daughter or for God to call him to the ministry.  Both of which bring him great happiness and sadness in their own ways.  


Writing Style        8/10 
Characters            8/10
Storyline              8/10

OVERALL     8/10

 Be sure to have plenty of free time when you start this one…  You won’t want to put This Fine Life down until you flip the last page!

*Kindle users:  Get it here*    CURRENTLY ON THE KINDLE TOP 100 FREE LIST!
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Between Friends

Between FriendsI sat down with my Kindle last night and couldn't decide what to read.  I randomly chose Debbie Macomber's Between Friends... and, boy, do I wish I had gone with something else.  A compilation of letters, announcements, newspaper articles, etc., I found this book to be very repetitive and quite exhausting to read.  Although I appreciate a friendship that lasts a lifetime, I could've done without the sadness that plagued practically every page.

Let's break it down...

Born to a poor family in 1948, Lesley is the product of an alcoholic father and a mother who won't stand up for herself.  She and Jillian become best friends early in life.  While everything around them changes and people come in and out of their lives, their friendship always stays the same.  Lesley must cope with her father's disapproval, multiple unwanted pregnancies, and a cheating husband... and that's just the tip of the iceberg! 

Also born in 1948, Jillian is the only child of a wealthy lawyer and a housewife.  While Jillian has no need to want for anything material, other things don't come as easily and she is forced to endure great sadness multiple times throughout her life.  As a young woman, she only wishes to be in love and start a family.  She has limited luck with both and as a result, she doesn't want to give her heart away.  Her relationship with her parents becomes strained in the midst of all her woes and Jillian has trouble deciding where she belongs.


Writing Style        2/10 
Characters            4/10
Storyline              3/10

OVERALL     3/10

It is quite possible that you will enjoy this scrapbook style story... but this isn't the book to pick up if you're in the mood for a good, old-fashioned novel!!

If you decide to give it a try anyway...
*Kindle users:  Get it here*
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen

Smokin' Seventeen: A Stephanie Plum NovelStephanie Plum is at it again...  crazy grandma, suffocatingly involved parents, two men and a crappy job.  In the latest installment, Plum is having some extraordinarily bad luck (even for her).  Between Morelli's grandma giving her the eye and all the people that are out to kill her, Stephanie stays pretty busy!

Although I will be the first to say I'll be sad when Evanovich ends this series, I also have to admit the stories are getting very repetitive.  Inside of the first few chapters, I knew who the killer was, which made for a bit of a boring read.  However, there were still plenty of laugh-out-loud funny moments to make up for it!

Let's break it down...

(To see the usual recurring characters, click here.)

A stoner from way back, Mooner doesn't have many brain cells left.  ;)  He is always very random, but ends up saying just the right thing at just the right time!

Nick Alpha
Jimmy's brother is out of jail and looking for revenge.  

Dave Brewer
An old friend from high school, Dave and Stephanie reconnect when their meddling parents try to set them up.

Regina Bugle
After failing to appear in court, Stephanie and Lula must track Regina down.  Turns out she's more than a little crazy...


Writing Style    9/10
Characters        6/10
Storyline          6/10

OVERALL       7/10

Although it's far from being my favorite, fans of the Plum Series are likely to enjoy Smokin' Seventeen!

*Kindle users:  Get it here*
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Swan House

The Swan House (The Swan House Series #1)Wow.  I loved this book.  Follow Mary Swan Middleton through a year of great sadness, soul searching, and faith finding.  Elizabeth Musser has such a way with words; her characters come to life in your mind's eye as you feel their highs and lows (and everything in between) right along with them.  The Swan House will make your troubles seem small while also filling your heart with much hope.  This is a must read (currently on the Kindle Top 100 Free List) for the summer!

Let's break it down...

Mary Swan
After losing her mother in the Orly plane crash of 1962, Mary Swan is lost.  While grieving and searching to find the person her mother truly was,  Mary Swan, who comes from "another fine Atlanta family,"  makes many unlikely friends, accepts Jesus as her Savior, and even discovers a little about herself. 

Mary Swan's best friend, Rachel, is learning the hard way what it's like to be Jewish in a WASP community.  However, she often forgets her own troubles to help her best friend through hard times.  After being picked as her first assistant for a special school project, Rachel and Mary Swan embark on an adventure that reveals more than they ever expected. 

Ella Mae
The Middleton's maid for many years, Ella Mae becomes a second mother to Mary Swan and her brother.  Though she remains faithful to the wishes of JJ and Sheila, she finds ways to show Mary Swan the heartache and hard times of others, rather than letting her dwell on her own. 

Once from a wealthy family, Miss Abigail lives in Grant Park amidst great poverty, crime, sickness, and discrimination.  She is a good, Christian woman with a heart full of love.  She's always there to answer Mary Swan's questions throughout her journey to find Jesus Christ. 

Robbie comes from a wealthy Atlanta family, but wants to do more with his life than just become another rich financial adviser  While vying for Mary Swan's affections, he discovers that following in her footsteps may just be where he finds his happiness. 

Although being a man of color in 1960s Atlanta was particularly hard, Carl holds on tight to his faith in the Lord and trusts him to bring him through his troubles. Mary Swan greatly admires Carl and even develops a crush on him despite the fact that she knows they can never be together. 

As the Middleton's next door neighbor and Shiela's best friend, Trixie becomes the person that Mary Swan must turn to for answers about her mother's past.


Writing Style    10/10
Characters         9/10
Storyline            9/10

OVERALL       9/10

In case I wasn't clear... READ THIS BOOK!  ;)

*Kindle users:  Get it here*
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

For those of you who DO read The Swan House, here are a few links you may want to check out.  Although the story is a work of fiction, the Orly plane tragedy and the places are very real.
Buckhead, GA
The Swan House
Orly Plane Disaster

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Life's a Beach

Life's a BeachI was super excited to see this on the Kindle Top 100 Free list last week.  I'm a huge Claire Cook fan. The Wildwater Walking Club...  Loved it.  Summer Blowout...  Loved it.  With that being said, I have to be honest; this book just wasn't quite up to par.  I enjoyed it, but I also didn't mind putting it down if the phone rang or I was a little tired.  (If I'm reading a great book, the ringer gets turned off and I'll stay up all night to finish it if I have to. ;)  While the ending isn't necessarily disappointing, it also isn't very exciting... only very predictable.  Life's a Beach is a typical coming-of-age novel with average characters and relationships.

Let's break it down...

At the age of forty-one, Ginger is living above her parents garage with her cat, Boyfriend.  She spends her time babysitting her sisters children, making sea glass jewelry, and trying to decide what to do for the rest of her life.  

Ginger's older sister, Geri, is obsessed with turning fifty and addicted to work.  She constantly criticizes Ginger's life choices... especially when it comes to her less-than-serious boyfriend, Noah.   

This second grader is one of the things that made Life's a Beach worth reading!  Riley is quite the comedian.  After being cast in a locally filmed movie, Ginger must accompany him to the beach for filming.

A gaffer working on the movie set, Tim is persistent in trying to win Ginger's affections.

Noah is a part time boyfriend and full time glass blower that Ginger can't seem to change.


Writing Style  5/10
Characters      4/10
Storyline        4/10

OVERALL     4/10

Although I normally highly recommend Claire Cook, Life's a Beach is not a book I'll be pushing my friends to read.

Want to give it a try?
*Kindle users:  Get it here*
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye
Sarah Dessen comes through yet again with this delightfully written novel!  Intended for young adults (but great for any age!), What Happened to Goodbye deals with a teenager’s complex feelings surrounding her parents’ getting divorced, moving from town to town for her dad’s job, making friends in a new place, and having an unexpected crush.  There is definitely plenty to keep you occupied!  

Let’s break it down…

 After changing her name and personality in each new town, Mclean surprises even herself by using her true identity in Lakeview.  Can the real Mclean maintain a relationship with her father, forgive her mother, and possibly fall in love?

Geeky, funny, awkwardly cute, and recently grounded, Dave is your average teenager.  Likable as he is, it’s easy to root for him during this story.


Writing Style      7/10                      
Characters          7/10
Storyline              8/10

OVERALL              7.5/10

Although all of her novels can stand alone, I recommend reading Dessen's books in order.  You'll recognize the return of a character here and there; but, most importantly, her writing gets noticeably better in each book.  

*Kindle users:  Get it here*
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summer at Willow Lake

Summer at Willow LakeA wonderful start to a great, albeit predictable, series!  With the exception of the newest installment (Marrying Daisy Bellamy), I knew exactly who would end up with who in every book of The Lakeshore Chronicles... but that didn't stop me from reading them!  The writing is great, the content humorous, and the characters lovable.

Susan Wiggs spins a tale revolving around an old summer resort camp, Camp Kioga.  Olivia Bellamy's grandparents own and were married at this camp.  They decide to renew their vowels in the same spot on their 50th wedding anniversary and Olivia is hired to do a complete renovation of the now vacant property.  When she first arrives, an old camp mate, Connor Davis, finds her in a rather embarrassing situation.  Will he even recognize her after all this time?

Summer at Willow Lake, a romance set in New York, alternates between present day, Olivia's childhood camp days, and her parent's Camp Kioga memories. 

Let's break it down...

Olivia Bellamy
After being heavy as a child, Olivia is now a fit and beautiful business owner that can't keep a fiance.

Connor Davis
The product of a self-absorbed mother and an alcoholic father, Connor is a contractor... not just any contractor, but the only contractor in town.  (How convenient... ;)  He broke Olivia's heart years earlier and is surprised to see her again.


Writing Style:  6/10
Characters:      5/10
Storyline          5/10
OVERALL   5/10 

 If you're looking for a light read to pass the time, give Summer at Willow Lake a try!

*Kindle Users:  Get it here*
*Prefer a hard copy?  Get it here*