Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey | Review

Title: Anything You Can Do
Author: R.S. Grey
Pages: 247
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Goodreads rating: 4.14 Stars
Published:  February 2nd, 2017
Source: ebook/bought


Lucas Thatcher has always been my enemy.

It’s been a decade since I’ve seen him, but our years on opposite coasts were less of a lasting peace and more of a temporary cease-fire. Now that we’re both back in our small town, I know Lucas expects the same old war, but I’ve changed since high school—and from the looks of it, so has he.

The arrogant boy who was my teenage rival is now a chiseled doctor armed with intimidating good looks. He is Lucas Thatcher 2.0, the new and improved version I’ll be competing with in the workplace instead of the schoolyard.

I’m not worried; I’m a doctor now too, board-certified and sexy in a white coat. It almost feels like winning will be too easy—until Lucas unveils a tactic neither of us has ever used before: sexual warfare.

The day he pushes me up against the wall and presses his lips to mine, I can’t help but wonder if he’s filling me with passion or poison. Every fleeting touch is perfect torture. With every stolen kiss, my walls crumble a little more. After all this time, Lucas knows exactly how to strip me of my defenses, but I’m in no hurry to surrender.

Knowing thy enemy has never felt so good

My Thoughts:

I think this book is a lot better than I give it credit for.  Here's my reasoning: I read this right after The Hating Game.  Just don't do that.  They're both pretty stellar books, but Lucy from THG was like my ultimate girl crush/kindred spirit, and Daisy from Anything You Can Do is not.  While I can totally understand the hating game Daisy and Lucas have going on, its much, much more hate than Lucy and Joshua, and it seems more intense and spiteful  Of course, if Lucy and Joshua had been playing the hating game for their entire lives, it probably would have been just as intense!

Daisy is sweet and excited to be taking over her hometown's small medical practice.  Its her dream, something she worked for all through college and her residency.  She worked hard for her dream... only to have it turn into a nightmare with the knowledge of one person returning to their small town: Lucas Thatcher.  Rivalry started since birth, Daisy is not one to just hand the practice or {god forbid} share it.  Daisy and Lucas try everything to get the other person to give up and hand over the office, from pranks to actually attempting to cause each other physical harm.

While Daisy loathes Lucas {and the whole town has known it since day one}, an interesting twist happens about halfway through the book when the reader is given a glimpse into Lucas' mind.  I love that the author added this little insight, because it brings a new light on Lucas and everything that's going on between him and Daisy.  This little bit that the author gives us is pure gold, and I love that she included it.  It makes the book just that much more enjoyable.

My only advice I would give to other readers is to read Anything You Can Do before The Hating Game.  They are both amazing books, but the latter kind of overshadows the former.  If I could do it again , I'd read them in that order.  Both are amazing in their own way {while being similar}, and that's would have been the best way for me to enjoy them!  That being said, I plan on getting another R.S. Grey book ASAP!

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | Review

Title: The Hating Game
Author: Sally Thorne
Pages: 384
Publisher: Willaim Morrow
Goodreads rating: 4.26 Stars
Published:  August 9th, 2016
Source: Audiobook/Library

Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

My Thoughts:

You know those books that everyone seems to get a hold of before you and is raving and gushing about them? That was The Hating Game for me and my bookish friends.  Everyone had read it and I was hearing so many good things about this book and just dying to read it.  Though I was warned that I would have a massive book hangover afterwards *sigh*.

I borrowed the audiobook of this from my local library, and it was more than worth the wait {though I really didn't hav eto wait very long at all}.  I blew through this book unlike any books I've read recently.  Mostly due to the stellar story, but also because the narrator was pretty perfect {she was the absolute perfect Lucy}.  I was listening to this book every second I got, including using headphones and listening in bed after both my husband and I snuggled in for the night or during my kids' nap/quiet time.

Lucy is the perfect mix of sweet and sassy, adorable and sexy.  She's like a quirky librarian, who always wanted to work in publishing and gets close to her dream job at the publishing house she works for.  She is a professional, bu also honest about her strong feeling towards Joshua.  Her strong negative feelings.

The entire office, possibly the entire company, knows about Lucy and Joshua's mutual hate.  They don't keep it a secret, and despite all the hate, they do work together rather fluidly and keep the office up and running proficiently.  Lucy and Joshua's bosses don't get along, and its almost like the two assistants are acting out all the hostility between the two companies when they merged into one.  Well, right to the brink of needing an HR intervention {or write up!}.

Joshua is written pretty dreamily.  I mean, you kind of expect that, right?  Well, he is dreamy... until he opens his mouth.  Then the banter begins, and swords {words} are flying across the office.  He evntually began to grow on me, but not before wanting to smack him upside the head.

I think it would be difficult to write a book about hating someone so much, and not completely turn off the reader to one of the characters in the hating game, but Sally Thorne knows just when to stop and how far to take the characters without swaying the reader one way or another.  I was on the fence with the characters for most of the book - no Team Lucy or Team Joshua.  I think I was honestly Team Please-Don't-Let-This-Book-End!!  It was the perfect read, and I can't wait for Sally Thorne to write some more!  *goes off to stalk her Goodreads page*

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson | Review

Title: The Golden Braid
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Pages: 320
Publisher: Zondervan
Goodreads rating: 4.06 Stars
Published:  November 1st, 2015
Source: Hardcover/gift


The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.

My Thoughts:

First, I"m a huge fan of Tangled, and my kids were on a Tangled kick for a while there, and I swear I was watching it at least once every few days.  I've always been a fan of Rapunzel, because *hello* HAIR.  I think a lot of young girls of my generation went through a phase with one person they looked up to or were enamored with having long hair.  Who has better hair than Rapunzel?  But I digress.

Melanie Dickerson's Rapunzel was very interesting.  I feel like this book had more layers that her others have been lacking.  And where the last couple books in this series have had leading ladies who were trying to be more self-sufficient and strong on their own, Rapunzel took the steps to do that.  In fact, if it weren't for a sad twist of fate, she would have succeeded {but where would the adventure and fun be in that?}.

Mother Gothel is as reclusive as she forces Rapunzel to be in most the book, and is constantly telling Rapunzel that men are evil and only ever want one thing, then they will leave you.  This is drilled into Rapunzel, but a time comes when she starts to see that Mother Gothel may be wrong about saying all men are like that.  With some of the new-found independence {and the knowledge she's gained by learning to read without Gothel's permission}, Rapunzel decides to go out on her own, getting a reputable job away from the oppressive house Gothel was running.

I don't want to spoil the book for any potential readers, but twists and turn and unexpected revelations keep this one of the more interesting books in the Hagenheim series.  I would definitely suggest this to those who enjoy YA fairytale retellings!  I would suggest starting with the first in the series {The Healer's Apprentice}, but that's definitely not a necessity {though you would find out histories to the leading ladies in the previous books}.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson | Mini Review

Title: The Princess Spy
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Pages: 292
Publisher: Zondervan
Goodreads rating: 3.99 Stars
Published:  November 4th, 2014
Source: Paperback/gift


Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to the castle, claiming to be an English lord who was left for dead by Claybrook's men. She convinces herself "Lord Colin" is just an addled stranger, until Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy---not only does she tend to talk too much, she's sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. But she soon discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. She soon finds herself running for her life--and it may be up to her to save her father and her family from one man's wicked plot.

My Thoughts

Another great book by Melanie Dickerson!  Although I'm not entirely sure what fairytale this is supposed to be a retelling of {is she done with the retellings?  Are these just going to be their own things now?  Or do I just really not know a good share of fairytales anymore?}.

Margaretha is a great character, as she has her faults and learns from them, but she's confident in what she knows {even if every now and then she's a little overconfident}.  Colin almost crashes into her life, and stays there as she's the only one in the castle who understands English in their German town {or at least the only one who knows English and also knows about Colin, since he's trying to avoid detection from the men who beat him and left him for dead}.

This story takes as unexpected turn about halfway through {I've noticed her books tend to do that... }, and it did seem to drag for a little bit.  I don't know if I was just waiting for something to happen and it was frustrating me that it would be so close and something would take away any progress made by the characters.  It didn't stop me from finishing the book {it takes a lot to put a book on my DNF [Did Not Finish] list}, and by the end I was back to singing Melanie Dickerson's praises again.

All of her Hagenheim books are easy YA reads, and I generally enjoy them all.  I'm looking forward to being able to pick up her next book in this series!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson | Review

Title: The Captive Maiden
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Pages: 306
Publisher: Zondervan
Goodreads rating: 3.93 Stars
Published:  November 23, 2013
Source: Paperback/Bought


Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothering bu servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela meets the duke's son, Valten-the boy she has daydreamed about for years-and learns he is throwing a ball, she vows to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent  on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

My Thoughts

I'm a big fan of Melanie Dickerson, and The Captive Maiden was no exception. The author has a way with fairytales that really just make you love them, and I do love how she brings God and scripture into each one.

Gisela is everything you would expect a Cinderella-esque heroine to be: beautiful, kind, caring... and mistreated.  She lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters in her father's house, trying to keep her stepmother from selling off all of her late father's beloved horses.  She shares the love her father had for the animals, preferring them to her step-family.

The book changes the meeting between Gisela and the prince {or in the case of this book, the young lord} much like the live-action Cinderella movie Disney released a couple years ago - a chance meeting in the woods.  Though Gisela isn't quite as whimsical as Lily James' Cinderella, she still has the kindness we all love in our little Cinder-girls.  While The Captive Maiden is a fairtale retelling, it does try to show a little how life would have actually been during that time period {although fairly loosely}.  Like needing a male escort to go to the market {or face unwanted attention from rude men} or being completely at the mercy of your family, not matter how much you disliked them and didn't agree with how they were running the family's affairs.

However, one thing that was much more fairytale than real was the leading man's choice on a wife: he was able to pick from any of the single, beautiful females of the land.  Lord Valten has been a little shafted in love, since his betrothed married his younger brother.  But he isn't too upset by that, as he hardly knew her, yet alone loved her, and his younger brother was quite in love with the girl {and she with him}.  After traveling and competing in tournaments for a while, Valten decided it was time to go home and settle down.  Enter Gisela and a chance meeting in the marketplace.  They quickly bond over their love of horses and both find the other very attractive.

While there was some typical, expected elements to this book, it took a rather unexpected turn a little over halfway through, and had at least one good "what in the world?" moment towards the end.  If you like fairytale retellings or just want to give one a whirl, this would be a great one to pick up.  Though I would suggest starting with the first one, as this is the fourth in a series and would ruin the others with some of the information causually thrown out later in the book.

Overall, it was a great quitck read and I would highly recommend it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken | Review

Title: Passenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Pages: 486
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Goodreads rating: 3.88 Stars
Published:  January 5, 2016
Source: Audiobook/Library, as well as Hardcover/bought


Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.

My Thoughts

I mostly listened to the audiobook for this one, just reading the few times I curled up in bed with it.  So I had a difficult time getting into it because of the narrator's voice {very gravely/rough, and I was picturing something much different for a young girl, especially one musically inclined}.

Etta is very interesting.  She comes across a little naive and at the same time very stubborn.  She is comstantly saying how she can take care of herself, but then turns to Nicholas.  While I'm all for the damsel in distress or the heroine who can hold her own, Etta as a character seemed a little confused as to which one she wanted to be.  Or maybe she just thought she wanted to be the latter and kept finding herself in situations that made her more of the former {being tossed out of one's time period and landing in the middle of an ocean centeries apart could do that to anyone}.  Thankfully, Nicholas is there for her in both situations {usually}, so she can be either one she chooses.

Nicholas himself is used to time travel and moving between passages of time much more than Etta {she just discovered it when she walked through one with another girl}.  While Etta was completely ignorant of her ability to travel through various portals and passages to different times and places, Nicholas had been trained to do so.  He's there to navigate and show Etta how it's done while they're on a quest looking for a missing item the master of the time travelers wants.

The book took a couple unexpected turns, and the ending had me literally exclaiming "what? No!" very loudly in bed {thankfully my husband wasn't asleep yet}.  I have really enjoyed Alexandra Bracken's writing, and I get sucked into the worlds she creates each time {despite narrators with gravely voices}. I would definitely suggest picking this one up and giving it a go... or maybe just wait until next year, so you're not torturing yourself in anticipation for the next book like I am now!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

After You by JoJo Moyes | Review

Title: After You
Author: JoJo Moynes
Pages: 353
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Goodreads rating: 3.72 Stars
Published:  September 29, 2015
Source: Audiobook/Library


“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

My Thoughts

*DISCLAIMER* This will have spoilers from Me Before You!! If you haven't read it and are planning on doing so, please, please, please don't read anymore!!!!

I'm serious!! If you don't want Me Before You spoiled, DO NOT READ ANYMORE!!!!

Okay... are you sure you want to read ahead??  Here goes...

I picked this up because I just really needed to know what happened to Lou after her life helping Will. Sh'e not really doing much with it, which kind of makes me go "man!"  Me Before You left Lou in a place that was sad but had promise.  After You found her working in a little pub by the airport, not really going anywhere.  Sure, she'd traveled to Paris for a bit after Will died, but she came home after, and found herself stuck in a rut.

Horribly enough, her rut ends when she's surprised by what everyone thinks was a figment of her imagination and falls off her apartment building's roof!  She survives, only to go through an interesting turn with the so-called figment of her imagination {no, it wasn't Will, and no, I won't ruin this and tell you who it was}.  She does find that her heart isn't completely closed off since Will, and it's swonderful to see this new interest bring her back out of the cocoon she built around herself.

The story takes twists and turns, some of them expected and others not. It ends pleasantly, but honestly not where I wanted to see Lou after the devistation that was her relationship with Will and the gaping hole Me Before You left in her life {and my heart!}.  I was hoping for a much more "happily ever after" or even "hey! It's all working out for Lou!" type of ending, and that isn't the way the author took this story.

I did borrow the audiobooke of this from my library {months ago... and am just now writing my review... oops!}, and some of this rating is also rating the narrator of the audiobook {she was fantastic, and exactly how I picked Lou to sound in my head}.  If you enjoyed Me Before You, you would defintely enjoy After You {probably more so}.  I would even go so far as to say you don't necessarily need to read Me Before You to read After You and enjoy it!