February 2014 archive

Review: Surrender to Sultry

Goodreads summary for Surrender to Sultry by Macy Beckett: Leah McMahon is back in Sultry Springs, Texas to help her dad recover from surgery. But there’s a new sheriff in town and he’s none other than Colton Bea, the wild-as-weeds boy who stole her heart a decade earlier. Colt’s a changed man now, and the feelings between these high school sweethearts are stronger than ever. But Leah’s got a secret so devastating that he may never forgive her. Can she find a way to earn absolution and build a future with the sultry man she’s loved half her life?

Jenny’s thoughts: I’m a fan, I’m a fan, I’m a fan. Macy Beckett (who just celebrated her first YA novel’s publication under the name Melissa Landers), you cheeky minx. You write some damn good stuff, lady. (I reviewed the first two books in the Sultry Springs series last week.)

Colt’s part of the Sultry trilogy was just as entertaining as the first two and just as steamy, as well. If you’re looking for laughs, swoons and grownup tingles, you have come to the right place. I thought the first part of the book dragged on a bit, but I was honestly just ready to see Colt and Leah stop dancing around each other and get on with the kissing. I admittedly enjoyed watching it all play out, though.

I was surprised to find an undercurrent to Colt and Leah’s story that hit close to home, too. Infertility, miscarriage, adoption and premature birth are all covered in the background, and while I’ll warn those who these topics may be triggers for, I will say that Beckett addressed each story tastefully. As this is a romance novel, none of those are covered with too much detail, but the details we do learn are heartstring-tugging and genuine.

Well done, Macy Beckett.

Reading about Readers…Reading?

I follow several book blogs, and I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you!

Ever since Google Reader was taken down, I’ve used (and LOVED) Feedly. I can organize blogs by topic, and it’s easy to scan the headlines and leave things for later.

My most-often read book blogs are:

Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos I can’t help it; I have a fascination with things people choose to permanently mark themselves with. I’ve found more than a few excellent, if obscure, quotes and references to literary masterpieces on here!

The Insatiable Booksluts                                                                                                           Not exactly for the faint of heart, this group of book bloggers use the tagline “Voracious readers tell you if that book is going to suck”, and usually in easy-to-understand-if-not-repeat terms!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader                                                                                    Group reads, discussions, and reviews? Throw a little real-life in there (menus, parenting, and challenges) and you’ve got a winner.

Book Hooked Blog Julie reads more random books than anyone I know. This girl plows through them and then writes honest, insightful reviews. She’s almost got me convinced to try non-ficiton. Almost.disclaimer: Julie is a Nestie bestie!

What are your favorite book blogs? I hope we make the list! 😉

 

Review: The Weight of Blood

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The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh

Synopsis (Goodreads): The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls-the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.

What I Thought: So I picked this one up because it said that it was for fans of Gillian Flynn and well… I’m a fan. In fact, ol’ Gillian brings out the hipster in me because I loved her before she was big. I trust blurbs even though I’ve been burned by them before, and I went into this one so excited.

The minute I realized that it was about a poor girl whose mom was dead, I almost gave myself a headache with the eye rolling. I think that authors write parents off as dead all the time because it’s so much easier to write about teenagers without pesky parents getting in the way… but I kept reading.

And you guys? It was really, really good. It wasn’t five stars (a bit too contrived, a bit confusing going back and forth in time and between narrators) but a solid four without a doubt.

I thought that the mystery itself was gritty enough to seem real but not gory at all. I read this while on a mini-vacation/road trip and it kept my attention and made the miles fly by. I read the last third or so in one breathless gulp and when I got to the end, I sat it down, satisfied and spent. A good mystery will do that to ya.

The main character, Lucy, is just absolutely believable. Her friendship with Bess was really well written and the chapters where we got to see them together shined above the rest of the novel for me.

I love reading a debut author and just seeing serious potential. I liked this a lot but I can see myself following her as she continues to write and grow, because if this was her first? I’m in. I recommend this to any fan of mysteries.

(I received this book from Netgalley, but all opinions are my own!) 

Review: Chester Alan Arthur

Chester Alan Arthur (The American Presidents #21) by Zachary Karabell

From Goodreads: Chester Alan Arthur never dreamed that one day he would be president of the United States. A successful lawyer, Arthur had been forced out as the head of the Custom House of the Port of New York in 1877 in a power struggle between the two wings of the Republican Party. He became such a celebrity that he was nominated for vice president in 1880-despite his never having run for office before.
Elected alongside James A. Garfield, Arthur found his life transformed just four months into his term, when an assassin shot and killed Garfield, catapulting Arthur into the presidency. The assassin was a deranged man who thought he deserved a federal job through the increasingly corrupt “spoils system.” To the surprise of many, Arthur, a longtime beneficiary of that system, saw that the time had come for reform. His opportunity came in the winter of 1882-83, when he pushed through the Pendleton Act, which created a professional civil service and set America on a course toward greater reforms in the decades to come.
Chester Arthur may be largely forgotten today, but Zachary Karabell eloquently shows how this unexpected president-of whom so little was expected-rose to the occasion when fate placed him in the White House.

Jennie’s Thoughts: I, like I suspect most of us, had no real idea who Arthur was. He’s in that bland section of bland presidents. I loved the biography I read for Garfield, so I half expected this book to be a let down. And, it was, but only sorta. This biography was short, which helped a lot, but it still covered a lot of ground and conveyed the man…and the president.

I found it interesting that Arthur never wanted to be president. He wasn’t one of those “I’ve Dreamed Of It FOREVER” kind of men…it just sort of fell into his lap. And when Garfield was shot he basically freaked out. Like, hid in his room having a toddler style meltdown. But, once he came to grips with what lay before him, he grew into those shoes. Maybe not in a way that made him truly embrace his position, but he didn’t take it lightly and didn’t become a pawn.

This was well-written and flowed nicely, covering both his personal life and his presidential life well. I recommend it for anyone doing the presidential challenge or anyone just looking to take a closer look at a not-so-well-known president.

Review: Sultry Springs series

   

Sultry With a Twist by Macy Beckett

Goodreads summary: When Mae-June July Augustine hightailed it out of Sultry Springs, Texas, with her heart in pieces, she swore she’d never return. But nine years later, one thing stands between June and her dream of opening an upscale martini bar: a month of community service under the supervision of the devilishly sexy Luke Gallagher, her first love and ex-best friend. As lust turns to love, June must decide where she belongs: in the glorious anonymity of Austin or back in Sultry Springs with the man who intoxicates her like no other.

Jenny’s thoughts: Sultry with a Twist was predictable in the way you hope every romantic story will be, but the characters and plot twists left the perfect amount of intrigue to keep me flipping pages till I finished with a grin.

I adore Mae June – she’s perfectly feisty and funny, and Luke is completely swoonworthy in that gruff, you-know-he’s-really-a-teddy-bear way.

A Shot of Sultry

Goodreads summary: Welcome to Sultry Springs, Texas: where home can be the perfect place for a fresh start.

For West Coast filmmaker Bobbi Gallagher, going back to Sultry Springs is a last resort. But with her career in tatters, a quick trip to her hometown might get her the footage she needs to salvage her reputation. She just can’t let anything distract her again. Not even the gorgeous contractor her brother asked to watch over her. As if she can’t handle filming a few rowdy Texans.

Golden boy Trey Lewis, with his blond hair and Technicolor-blue eyes, is a leading man if Bobbi ever saw one. He’s strong and confident and–much to her delight–usually shirtless. He thinks keeping his best friend’s baby sister out of trouble will be easy. But he has no idea of the trouble in store for him…

Jenny’s thoughts: A Shot of Sultry is a cute, fun read and a great follow up to Sultry with a Twist. The characters are funny and steamy, and Trey is every bit as lovable as I thought he’d be with all the attention of his own book. Macy Beckett’s characters really come to life well for me, and I can vividly picture … everything. Ha! I admittedly wasn’t sure I’d enjoy a book without Mae June and Luke at the front as much, but I think I liked Trey’s story even more!

The series so far: I’m not a reader of romance novels. I should know better than to judge a genre, but … sigh. I do. This series has me really on the fence about my past opinions, though, because I am honestly in love with Sultry Springs. The books read just like any favorite romantic comedy, and they get steamier than I’ve ever seen Meg Ryan dare. What’s not to love?

I’m in an awful reading rut right now, and that’s why I have Surrender to Sultry loaded on my Nook and ready for me to read this week. If returning to the steamy South and finding out more about Colt doesn’t pull me out of this funk, I might as well hand over my library card. Find out next week what I thought about the final Sultry Springs novel!

p.s. Surrender to Sultry’s eBook version is on sale for $2.99. Come join me in Sultry Springs! These books aren’t long, they’re addicting, and you have a week before I review the third and final book. Do it – you know you want to!

Shelved…or Abandoned?

I’ve shelved not one, but two books in the past week. Both were audiobooks I’d been looking forward to; one was finally available from my library after an extensive hold.

I started The Goldfinch, with high, high hopes. I even liked it. But when I realized, around the time he was picking out china patterns with his fiance, that there were 10+ hours left in it and that frankly, my dear, I hadn’t cared a whit for the past 8 hours? Shelved. Unfinished. Abandoned.

Then I tried The Sea by John Banville. One reviewer on Goodreads said “Banville’s writing is going to be lost on a lot of readers because it’s much more than a work of fiction.”

Count me in the group of readers it was lost on. I couldn’t follow the story for zoning out. I’m not sure if it was the timing, the distractions of children gone haywire, or just above my head. But I listened to several chapters and couldn’t even tell you the character’s name. Shelved. Unfinished. Abandoned.

I have a Goodreads shelf titled “shelved-unfinished”, but I’m fairly sure “abandoned” would be more fitting. Rarely do I return to a book once it’s “shelved”. I’ve never finished Allegiant. I still haven’t completed the re-read of Drums of Autumn (which I’ve read twice already, so I’m not sure it actually counts). For me, every book I pick up, whether in print or audio, has one fair shot. Sometimes it falls short because the timing’s wrong on my part. Sometimes it’s because I’m not interested in the characters.  I think for The Sea, the problem was both. I may try it again later- probably in print, but then again, there’s a whole lotta books out there, waiting to be loved.

Have you abandoned any books lately??

 

This & That- February 19, 2014

I always come across little things that I want to share with you, my fellow readers, whether it is a cute book-related craft on Etsy or breaking book news or anything like that, but never really knew how to frame these teensy pieces of info on the blog. As a solution, I’ve decided to stockpile these little bits and post them all together, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Enjoy!

We’ve reviewed Cuckoo’s Calling twice on the blog, and I was so excited to see that The Silkworm, the sequel to Cuckoo’s Calling is announced, a long with a pretty cover. Head to the publisher’s website for a description and a look at the cover!

John Green put out a video with 18 Books You Probably Haven’t Read and I loved it because I read books that are “off the beaten path” pretty regularly, although I’ve only read one of his faves- and there are some picture books. Squee!

If you like books and pretty and words, this Etsy shop, BookishlyUK, will make you all warm & fuzzy.

This is a video with grammar tips and puppets and poop references and Nazi jokes, so, you know. It’s perfect.

 

Last week, Slate published an article called What a Librarian Looks Like and I totally love it. Just to be clear, I’m fairly sure that librarians in Akron, Ohio didn’t get the memo that it’s ok to be stylish and trendy and cool- but if we’re being honest, most of us missed that memo.

 

Any bookish bits and pieces you’ve read lately?

 

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