Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sisters' Fate by Jessica Spotswood

I'm so sad to see this series end. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I first picked up Born Wicked 2 years ago, since witches aren't normally my thing, but I fell in love with the world Jessica Spotswood had created and the characters she nurtured into such strong women. When Star Cursed came out last year, I was happily at the launch party (complete with cupcakes for readers and a tiara for the author), and now comes Sisters' Fate.

I read this book in one day, despite my attempts to make it last. It's filled with action as Cate attempts to fight against the Brotherhood, rebuild her relationship with Finn, and save her sisters from destruction - both self-inflicted - and not and the emotional hits just kept on coming. I couldn't put the book down once I started, so I just gave in and read it all through. Such beauty in the writing, yet the plot twists just kept coming.

Can we just talk about Cate and Finn for a moment? This is not your typical teen-book romance. It had depth, crazy complexities, and yet felt entirely realistic despite all the magical elements floating around. Their relationship is one I cheered for and may have even shed a few tears for throughout this series and I really love how Spotswood ties things up. Sorry for being a bit vague, but no spoilers here. Just read the series!

I love Spotswood's writing style and her easy ability to pull you into the story from the very first pages. I can't wait to see what she has up her sleeve next!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

All I Know and Love review



For years, Matthew Greene and Daniel Rosen have enjoyed a contented domestic life in Northampton, Massachusetts. Opposites in many ways, they have grown together and made their relationship work. But when they learn that Daniel's twin brother and sister-in-law have ben killed in a Jerusalem bombing, their lives are suddenly, utterly transformed. 


The deceased couple have left behind two young children and their shocked and grieving families must decide who will raise six-year-old Gal and baby Noam. When it becomes clear that Daniel's brother and sister-in-law had wanted Matt and Daniel to be the children's guardians, the two men find themselves confronted by challenges that strike at the heart of their relationship. (Description via Goodreads)

Such a heavy, heavy read, but so beautifully done. I was pulled into Matt and Daniel's story from the very first pages and found myself crying along with them as they suffer a terrible tragedy and their entire lives are turned upside down.

The characters each had a special sort of depth that is missing in a lot of books and I appreciated the realistic flaws in each. Each character was still likable, despite the flaws, which I feel is the mark of a true-to-life character.  I can't stop thinking about the horrors they faced and the crazy circumstances Matt had to endure in the midst of the tragedy. He was totally out of place in Israel, with Daniel's family, with everything really, and it just felt perfect. That's how life is... messy. 

Brimming with topics for discussion (religion, same sex marriage, family drama, politics, etc), I can definitely see this one being used for book clubs with huge success. It's a long read, but so, so good. 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the review copy! Check out the rest of the tour here

Friday, July 11, 2014

Manhunt by Kate Messner

I love Kate Messner and I love this series! Manhunt is the third book, following Capture the Flag and Hide and Seek and I think it's the best one yet. This time around, the young members of the super secret Silver Jaguar Society are tasked with finding the stolen Mona Lisa painting, which takes them all over Paris.

The setting was well-described and appropriately detailed for the desired age group. Lots of cool Parisian landmarks were used in the plot and it definitely made me want to take a trip. I can't imagine reading this and not wanting to hop on a jet plane to that city!

The characters were complex, diverse (#weneeddiversebooks) and realistic making for great detectives that kids are going to love reading about. Hopefully, when they've finished the story, they'll want to look up more cool facts about Paris. I love when fiction encourages non-fiction research.

If this is your first Kate Messner book, definitely check out her others.

Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy!


Friday, June 27, 2014

2 new Christian reads

I've been spending a lot of time with my Bible lately and in books that are an encouragement to me as both a Christian and a woman. They're my refreshment after a long day with a cranky toddler or even just a normal, happy day. I need to be in the Word and these two books are my most recent "refreshing" reads. 


Love, Skip, Jump by Shelene Bryan is all about saying "yes" to the things that typically scare you and take a true leap of faith. It was a great reminder at taking care of the things we have and not taking them for granted, as well as how others are living without many of our luxuries and we're called to care for those with less. 



Jumping into the adventure our Creator has planned for us is essential -- but much easier said than done. Bryan did an excellent job at using personal experience to inspire. 


Living Life Undaunted by Christine Caine has quickly become my new favorite devotional. It contains 365 readings to challenge us to help change the world. She is an incredibly powerful speaker and has a great writing style -- simple, but direct. I love opening this up with my Bible each morning to see what Caine has in store for me to chew on. 

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the chance to review these fantastic books. I hope to be featuring more from them in the near future! 



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A beach book giveaway!

I just returned from 4 glorious days at the beach with my friends. It was a much needed mama-break and I enjoyed every single minute of doing almost nothing except lounging in the sand with my book.  SO relaxing!


Though I really enjoyed my alone time, I know Elliott would love the beach, so I'm hoping to take him to a closer one sometime this summer. We've been reading a lot of books about the beach lately and our favorite has been Duck & Goose Go the the Beach by Tad Hills. Who doesn't love this sweet pair of friends??


In their latest adventure, the excited pair head to the beach where Goose loves the sand and the surf... but, poor Duck is a little scared. It's the perfect blend of sweet and silly and kids will laugh all through the antics of these two crazy birds. 

For us, it's also a great intro for Elliott as to what life at the beach might be like. Sand, big waves, little tide pools, etc. The illustrations are fantastic, as Hills' always are, and he loved laughing at Goose being so silly. 

Random House has kindly sent an extra book and some Duck & Goose goodies to give away to one of you! Leave a comment on this post by Friday night and I'll pick a winner Saturday morning. Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you! U.S. only please. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

From the publisher:

By July 1914, the ties between Kezia Marchant and Thea Brissenden, friends since girlhood, have become strained -- by Thea's passionate embrace of women's suffrage, and by the imminent marriage of Kezia to Thea's brother, Tom, who runs the family farm. When Kezia and Tom wed, just a month before Britain declares war on Germany, Thea's gift to Kezia is a book on household management -- a veiled criticism of the bride's prosaic life to come. Yet when Tom enlists to fight for his country and Thea is drawn reluctantly onto the battlefield, the farm becomes Kezia's responsibility. Each woman must find a way to endure the ensuing cataclysm and turmoil.


I absolutely love Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series and was thrilled to see she had a stand-alone coming out. Though I wasn't quite as entranced with the characters as I had been with the series, I still found myself pulled into the time period and setting just as deeply. Winspear has a knack for creating an ugly beautiful -- the Great War being a terribly ugly time in history, yet her descriptions of life, place, and emotions are truly beautiful.

This one wasn't a quick read, but worth savoring. Add it to your beach bag if you're looking for something with depth, but also bits of humor. I loved it!

You can check out the rest of the tour here or head to Jacqueline Winspear's website or Facebook page. And if you haven't read a Maisie Dobbs book, YOU MUST.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Dog Year... interview with Ann Garvin




You all know I love a good dog book. The Dog Year follows Dr. Lucy Peterman, a woman struggling to keep her head above water after losing her husband and unborn child in a tragic accident. She's caught stealing from the hospital she works in and is sent to a twelve-step program to attempt to help rebuild her life. 


She adopts a stray dog and slowly starts bonding with the people in her group while at the dog park. Proving that dog-people really are the best people, right? (just kidding, cats are cool too)

I thought it would be great if Ann Garvin would provide us with a little background that went into The Dog Year -- in the form of its playlist! 

What is the musical soundtrack you imagined to go along with The Dog Year?

This is a wonderful question and since there is a discovered iPod in the book where my protagonist listens and tries to feel connected to her husband after his death, it’s a perfect question for me. If I were to fill an iPod with music for listening while reading THE DOG YEAR, I would fill it with.

·         Everlasting Love by Gloria Estefan
·         Give Me Everything by Pitbull
·         Say Hey (I Love You) by Michael Franti
·         My First My Last My Everything by Barry White
·         It’s Raining Men by The Weathergirls
·         Bad Day by Daniel Powter

I’d also add to this list
·         Just Give Me a Reason and Blow Me (one last kiss) by Pink (Lucy has Pink’s attitude so often it seems to fit.)
·         The Show by Lenka (would be perfect for either Sara or Sidney)
·         Me and Mrs. Jones by Billy Paul
·         Hard Candy by The Counting Crows
·         You and I Both by Jason Mraz
·         At Last by Etta James
·         A Thousand Years by Christina Perri
·         Club Can’t Handle Me by Flo Rida
·         I’m Yours/Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Straight No Chaser (for closing credits)

And I would like nothing better than Thrift Shop by Macklemore to be playing while Lucy is stealing all the strange stuff she doesn’t need. How awesome would that be?

Thanks for joining me, Ann! And thanks to Penguin for sending a review copy along. If you're a dog lover, be sure to add this one to your summer reading list -- just be sure to have a box of tissues nearby!