Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: Branded with a Kiss by Paula Altenburg

Branded with a KissBranded with a Kiss by Paula Altenburg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Paula Altenburg book and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I love the whole ‘player into hero’ trope so this was right up my alley. I loved how relatable Patterson was which really surprised me. It typically takes me time to like the male player character but I liked Patterson immediately. And Alayna is a great character as well – it took me awhile to warm up to her but ultimately she was really fleshed out. I liked the glimpses into running a cattle ranch. The story felt real as did the relationship between the couple. Really enjoyed this one and look forward to reading more of Paula Altenburg’s work!

NOTE: I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

The Best Kind of PeopleThe Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was concerned that this book was just another book treading ground that has been tread before in literary fiction. But, I felt this one did a really good job exploring something very timely – an accusation and its impact to the family members of the accused as well as the community in which they live. In this particular story, a heroic teacher who everyone ‘loves’ is accused of sexual impropriety by students and the fall out is the primary focus of the novel. How does his family deal with how the community reacts to the accusation? How does the community treat the family? How do his wife and children cope with loving this man and yet wrestling with his potential guilt? Ultimately, this is about rape culture and the impact these situations have to the individuals and communities in which they take place. I like that the story felt complete by the end of the novel and yet it didn’t get all tied up in a pretty bow. There is so much here to think about in terms of how we treat others and how rape culture affects our decisions when these types of situations take place. I really think this is one worth reading, especially if you’re interested in the intersection of rape culture and community life.

NOTE: The publisher provided me with an ARC of this novel for an honest review.

Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, SingSing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m really worried that I’m not going to be able to do this book justice with a review. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while. This is a novel about the south, about parenting, about racism, about growing up, about ghosts – especially those inside of us, and it’s about heartache. It’s all these things and more. It’s raw and unflinching. It’s gritty and atmospheric. It’s so beautifully written – Jesmyn Ward is one of my favorite writers and this is some of the best of her work! If you’re looking for something light and breezy, steer clear. If you’re looking for something that will push you to think a little harder and care a little more, then pick this one up. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the place and characters that Jesmyn Ward explores in this book. This book is a punch in the gut but the best punch in the gut you can have. The characters come alive – there is an intimacy in the way that Ward writes her characters. I felt as if I knew them, lived with them, felt them. Jojo will stay with me for some time. A child forced to become a man and care for himself and his sister. A child who is drowning in parental neglect and abuse yet finds solace with his grandparents who love him. The touches of magical realism (specifically, ghosts) were so beautifully done. Each of these ghosts tell a story that will break your heart. The exploration of drugs, violence and racism and its impact on one family is superb. This one spoke to me. I’d like to go back and read it again because it was so beautiful that I just know that I’ve missed some of it in just one reading. It’s an intense read that has many pieces that are painful to read. But, that darkness and pain is worth it given how engrossing it is. It’s a beautifully told story that you won’t forget. Jesmyn Ward is an amazing storyteller. You can’t go wrong with this one … it’s just magnificent!

NOTE: The publisher provided me with an ARC of this novel for an honest review.

Review: Powerless by Paris Hansen

Powerless (Finding Love Book 2)Powerless by Paris Hansen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is such an interesting romance. The heroine is such a strong person and I found her character so fascinating. And the hero … wow, what a guy! He rocks. Their connection is really wonderful. The focus on living a life in the public eye was really interesting and I like how the ending came together. There was nothing predictable or boring about this one for me. I really enjoyed it all.

NOTE: The publisher provided me with an ARC of this novel for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review: Dare to Love by Carly Phillips

Dare to Love (Dare to Love, #1)Dare to Love by Carly Phillips
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another new series for me … I picked this one up randomly and could not put it down! It captivated me immediately. Ian Dare and Riley Taylor just grabbed onto me and did not let go. Very hot, lots of romance and sex. The chemistry between Ian and Riley just flies off the page. It’s so powerful. The background story with the siblings and their family drama felt a little out there. And yet, Phillips made me believe it and see its impact despite it being a bit out of this world. Very much about family as well as love. It did feel as if they fell into each other awful fast … I missed some of that early relationship building but it eventually worked itself out. Ultimately, the book was really good. Off to read the rest of the series!

NOTE: I've already read #2 and it was fantastic! And I'm half way through #3 and enjoying it as well!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai

A Gentleman in the Street (The Campbell Siblings, #1)A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve really enjoyed the other Alisa Rai’s books that I’ve read so I was eager to read this one which is the first in the Campbell Siblings series. It took me awhile to connect with this one. It’s pretty provocative from the start. If you don’t like sexy, skip this one. LOTS of sexy. But, I did come to really enjoy the story itself and the characters at its center. This is edgy romance at it’s best. Rai is such a wonderful storyteller. She brings people and stories to life in such a beautiful way. Ultimately, a really fun read with lots of kink! But, not for everyone!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

The Idea of YouThe Idea of You by Robinne Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had no idea what I was getting into with this book. I’d heard several of my bookish friends talk about how good this one was and I needed something light as a palette cleanser so I picked it up. And WOW! One of the best romances I’ve ever read … It’s a beautiful story and the characters were outstanding. It’s essentially the story of an older woman with a teenaged daughter who meets a much younger man who is a member of a boy band that her daughter loves. Their story was so well told. The challenges faced by Solene in the book were so well explored. This is one of those books that literally swept me away into another world. I didn’t want to put it down. It’s emotional depth is outstanding. The skill it takes to make a reader FEEL so much from just the words on a page … it’s amazing! Highly recommend this one! It’s wonderful!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Review: Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

HexHex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I heard someone on a Bookriot podcast talk about this book and I knew that I had to read it. This book is CREEPY and ODD in every way. A witch from the 17th century haunts a town – no one is allowed to leave the town. She wanders around with her eyes and mouth sewn shut. She shows up in your house out of nowhere, just standing there. The town itself centers life around this witch and making life in the town bearable and protecting outsiders from the curse. There was some graphic violence here and LOTS of creepiness. If you don’t like the weird and scary, skip this one. If you do, you should read this one. I was fascinated by the concept and how the author kept the tension moving the plot along. Very chilling. Very scary. Not for everyone but really interesting reading for those who like horror and scary books!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Review: Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Mrs. FletcherMrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was listening to an interview with Tom Perrotta about his book and was so engaged by the concepts he’s exploring that I ran and picked up the book. It explores sexuality, identity, being a parent, and how our choices can change our lives. The exploration of internet porn and how it’s changing our culture is fascinating. This is something that I wonder about often as the mother of two 12 year olds. The culture and our views of sexuality are so different than they were when I was young. I was looking forward to Perrotta really going deep with these ideas. Yet, I don’t feel like it was explored as deeply as I’d hoped. It some ways, I felt like it started down a path of exploration but then got lost along the way and focused on other things. And it never really got back to the interesting ideas it starts with. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoyed it … I did. The novel is immensely readable. Very compelling and thoughtful. The combination of humor and social commentary that Perotta is known for is definitely on display in this novel. The character are all so flawed but drawn in such real terms that they felt very dynamic to me. All in all, I really liked this one. If you’re a Perrotta fan, I think you should definitely pick this one up!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Review: You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to ExplainYou Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall, I really liked this book. I think these essays are very timely and relevant, particularly in the US today, and tell us important things about race and identity. Robinson’s voice is smart, witty, thoughtful and straightforward. These essays helped me see how race impacts marginalized people in a very personal way. We can read about race all day but never really understand the day to day impact of race on people. These essays really did give me so much to think about. She is FUNNY. She is SMART. She is FANTASTIC! I highly recommend this one!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Review: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American CityEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while but it just never made it to the top of the pile. It’s won a ton of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize! I’m so glad that I finally picked it up - it really lived up to the praise I’ve been hearing. I did not want to put this down. It’s compelling and devastating at the same time. This book tells the story of poverty in America in such a refreshing and real way. It reads like a novel, not a nonfiction book. The book follows 8 families in Milwaukee as they try to live their lives and provide for their families. It’s heartbreaking in so many ways. We all think that we know what life is like for the poor but this book really puts you in their shoes in a way that opens your eyes to things you’ve never thought of before.

All of the people in this book want to do better but institutional forces make it so difficult for the poor. They spend the vast majority of their money on rent and have inevitably fallen behind. They can barely feed their children but are paying almost all of their money for a home that is often in terrible shape – no water, plumbing not working, the house covered in lead paint, etc. If they ask for things to be fixed, they are likely to be evicted. It’s brutal. It’s heartbreaking. It’s infuriating. We have got to do better! How can we expect people who are struggling with such basics as a roof over their head or food on the table to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and pull their family out of poverty? We do everything we can to make it close to impossible and then blame them for the situation that they find themselves in. I thought that I knew about poverty, housing and evictions after my years as a social worker but WOW … I learned so much from this book.

It’s changed the way that I view the world. It has changed the way that I view so much – poverty, education, human services, food stamps, and so much more. The segregation and discrimination that these families face every single day would be devastating to anyone. And yet they keep going, doing everything they can to make it in a world that seems to push them down every time they make it up a little bit. This book should be required reading. Everyone should better understand the housing crisis in the US and how our government is not providing the support that is necessary for millions of people in America. I hope this book scares all of us enough to DO SOMETHING about this. To demand that our government do something about this!

This is a horrifying and stunning book that I just cannot recommend more highly. Just a few of the things you’ll learn about by reading this include -

1. How easy it is to evict a tenant

2. How most (90%+) of the poor’s money goes to rent whereas it’s recommended for people to only spend 30% of their income on housing.

3. Imagine trying to go to school and learn when you’re just worried about where you’ll sleep and if you’ll have food on the table.

4. Landlords prefer to not rent to families or a parent with children, adding additional burden on poor single mothers.

I could list 400 nuggets that you’ll read about in this book. I really hope you’ll pick this one up. It’s a must read! I’ll leave you with one more thought from the book …

“Whatever our way out of this mess, one thing is certain. This degree of inequality, this withdrawal of opportunity, this cold denial of basic needs, this endorsement of pointless suffering – by no American value is this situation justified.”

NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Final Score by Jaci Burton

The Final Score (Play by Play, #13)The Final Score by Jaci Burton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love love love this series! And this is yet another great read. I loved reading Nathan’s story since we’ve ‘known’ him since the very first book and have had glances at him over the books. It was great to see a deep dive into his life and his relationship with Mia. I really loved Mia and getting to learn more about her was really interesting. I love the glimpses into the other members of the families from the series. A great mix of traditional romance and sexiness. I really enjoyed this one and highly recommend it (and the series itself)! You can’t go wrong with these books!

Coming next week on September 12th! Be sure to pick it up!

There is a Jaci Burton Football Prize Pack giveaway that you might be interested in checking out... one winner will recieve all 7 football themed Play by Play novels, two custom koozies and an really cute cooler!

Check it out here - a Rafflecopter giveaway

NOTE: I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Real Thing by Melissa Foster

The Real Thing (Sugar Lake, #1)The Real Thing by Melissa Foster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh boy am I glad that I read this one! This is the first in a new series . I love how Foster mixed up the sweet romance with the heat/sexy and even added in a dash of humor! I really enjoyed this story and watching them come together. I’m a sucker for the second chance love story and this is one that is really well done. I love how Foster made Zane so relatable despite his being a movie star and Willow was a very spunky and interesting character. Them together was magic! Really liked this and definitely recommend!

NOTE: I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Arm Candy by Jessica Lemmon

Arm Candy (Real Love, #2)Arm Candy by Jessica Lemmon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this romance … the setting, the tropes, the characters … all of it was so well done. There is humor here as well as a lot of sexiness! It’s a nice balance of sexy and traditional romance. The relationship between Davis and Grace was really interesting and it developed very well. I think what made this work for me was the characters – I felt compelled to keep reading about them and their journey together. Really enjoyed this one!

NOTE: I received this Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So much fun! What a wonderful romantic comedy wrapped up into a novel format. The word for this book that keeps coming to mind is delightful! The characters are fantastic … love Dimple, love Rishi, love all the side characters and the families. They were all just great. I was laughing out loud at times. The interplay between Dimple and Rishi was wonderful. I loved this one! Very cute and fun! Definitely recommend this one if you are in the mood for a light, fun read!