Saturday, September 13, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Before I begin on my review, let’s go over some pronunciation. It is eye-la not is-la for Isla.  Thank you Stephanie Perkins for including this within the first 2 pages. I found it extremely helpful and I hope you do as well.

If Stephanie Perkins writes it, I will read it. I picked up Anna and the French Kiss in January of 2011 and I have been recommending Perkins and her books to anyone I can. These contemporary YA romances center around a group of teens that are in Paris at a boarding school (with the exception of Lola and Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door). The final installment in this series is Isla and the Happily Ever After. I have been waiting on this book for 3 long years! The release date was constantly pushed back and I was left in a state of despair. But finally, it arrived! Just in time for my September YA/NA Challenge. 

For Lola, being in love with Josh is like breathing. It just comes naturally. Now that they are in their senior year at their boarding school in Paris, maybe they will have the opportunity to grow closer…and they do. After a chance encounter over the Summer, the two begin to admit their feelings for one another. But obstacles are always present. Factor in an annoying sister, insecurities, and political parents and it seems that the universe is pulling Lola and Josh further away from each other. Will they be able to find their way back to each other?

Though it starts out a little rough around the edges, Perkins easily finds her groove and the story comes together beautifully. Isla is definitely individual, so it does take a little bit to understand her and how she operates...which is why it took me a few characters to figure her out. All of Perkins’ characters are completely unique. No better case than Lola (love love love her!). You will not find a stereotypical character anywhere in Perkins’ novels, which is another reason why I love her writing. In Isla all the characters are their own. From Josh who wants to be a cartoonist to Kurt, who has high functioning autism. They are all distinct and I find them more loveable that way.

Another favorite aspect is Perkins’ modern take on sex. I’ve mentioned before that I believe sex should be included in YA novels as long as it is relevant to the story and the growth of the characters. In Isla the characters have been previously sexually active and there is no shame in this. Actually Isla said it best when she said, “I mean, when you grow up half French, it’s not like sex is this big taboo. And yeah, you have to be careful and you need protection and blah blah blah, but it’s not that American Puritanical be-all, end-all.” (page 95).  



If you have not read Anna and the French Kiss or Lola and the Boy Next Door, then I suggest you wait on Isla and the Happily Ever After.  Though Isla and the Happily Ever can stand alone, I highly suggest you read them in order. You will enjoy them more that way (in my opinion).  For fans of Perkins, she wraps up the series beautifully in the ending of Isla. Also, the last paragraph in the acknowledgments is a great tribute to the fans. 

Stephanie Perkins signing my books at the Romantic Times Convention in New Orleans 2014. Eeek!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

As the daughter of the top military general in the Valorian Empire, Kestrel knows what is expected of her. She must either join the military or marry. There are both pros and cons to each option, but neither would make her truly happy. As Kestrel weighs the right choice for herself, a new figure enters into her life. A mistaken visit to the slave auction results in Kestrel purchasing Arin, a Herrani slave. Sickened at the mere thought of the auction, Kestrel is completely shocked by her purchase … and her attraction to Arin. As their friendship grows, the plot thickens.  Kestrel has no idea how one impulsive decision could alter the entire course of her country.

As part of my September  YA/NA Challenge, I went searching for some new books that have yet to come across my radar. I’m not exactly sure how I came across The Winner’s Curse, but I was definitely intrigued by the plot. I have several friends on Goodreads who gave it 5 stars, which only cemented the book more for me.

The first 100 pages or so, introduces us to Kestrel, Arin, their empire, and the history of how Kestrel’s people conquered and enslaved Arin’s country. Though it is a little slow during the initial setup, author Marie Rutkoski does a wonderful job of still keeping it interesting. All the characters have depth and are essential to the storyline. Arin and Kestrel are both brilliant and have great minds for strategy. Though they are pitted against each other, Arin and Kestrel cannot deny the connection between them. As the intrigue and betrayals deepen, The Winner’s Curse takes the reader on a whirlwind of excitement.  Filled with duels, ballrooms, and blackmail, The Winner’s Curse holds nothing back.


I don't think I can recommend The Winner's Curse enough. I know tons of patrons who are going to devour it and I can't wait to put it in their hands. The next installment in The Winner’s Trilogy, The Winner’s Crime is set to be released in March 2015. You definitely will want to get your hands on it immediately. 

Fans of The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson will love The Winner's Curse. 

Sidenote: Not that this matters, but I found that the cover was one of my least favorites for a YA book. The composition of the girl, plus the vertical text and thin font are all disastrous in my opinion. Anyone agree or disagree?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally Review

In Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally, we are introduced to Annie, a recent High School graduate who is training for her first marathon. But she isn’t running for herself. She is running for her boyfriend…who died before he could compete in the marathon. As Annie completes her training, she not only has to deal with the repercussions of pushing her body to the limit, but the death of Kyle. Will Annie be able to successfully complete a 26 mile marathon? Will it help her say goodbye to Kyle?

I checked out Breathe, Annie, Breathe because a friend and fellow librarian gave it rave reviews via Goodreads. First off, I feel that I need to state that I’m not a runner. I’m not in to running and I never plan to enter a marathon. I would probably only run if someone was chasing me, but then I would only have to be as fast of someone else who was with me.  I didn’t know if I would be able to relate to Annie. What do I know about running? I have NO desire to run. Would I enjoy a book that was centered around marathon training? Kenneally holds nothing back about the brutality of training for a marathon. She covers the vomiting, the blisters, and even the constant trips to the bathroom. All that aside, I have such a profound respect for runners now. I’m so glad she covered the grotesqueness of the training process. It made it real and it made you root for Annie that much more.

Another subject that Kenneally doesn’t shy away from is the fact that these characters, like most normal teens, are sexually active. I am a big supporter of sex in YA novels, as long as it is real and relatable to the story. In Breathe, Annie, Breathe the characters are sexually active and there is no shame in that. Annie does have a scene where she is laced with guilt but not because she is sexually active. It deals more with her moving on from Kyle, her deceased boyfriend. Her guilt from being sexually attracted to another guy is logical and worked for where Annie was in her life.  Kenneally did a wonderful job of working this into the story. She did not use graphic details but the addition of sex and sexual innuendos was completely natural for the characters.

I found myself instantly relating to Annie. Not about the dead boyfriend part or the training for a marathon, but how she was dealing with all of this on top of trying to get ready for college. It brought back nostalgic feelings of buying dorm decorations and finally moving in. I was reliving it all with Annie. Besides having those nostalgic feelings, all the characters in Breathe, Annie, Breathe were real and played an important role in the story. My hands down favorite character is Jeremiah, the brother of Annie’s trainer. Annie knows this hot adrenaline junkie is bad news, but she can’t help herself from slowly opening up to him. It was patient and lovely.  As Annie’s story progresses, she learned more about herself than anything. Yes, there is a romance, but this story is about a young woman’s struggle to let go of the past and learn to be happy.


I highly recommend Breathe, Annie, Breathe and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Reading Breathe, Annie, Breathe was part of my YA/NA September Challenge. Though this novel is more likely to be grouped in the Young Adult section, I personally think that is has more of a New Adult feel. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Nightingale by Cathy Maxwell Spotlight




 Fate has brought them together -again.

At one time, Jemma had meant the world to Dane Pendleton, but then she betrayed their young love by marrying another for his title and fortune. Now Time has turned the tables. Dane is wealthy, respected, knighted and the widowed Jemma has nothing but her pride.

His honor for hers . . .

Dane’s name is on the lips of every beauty in London. They whisper he learned “tricks” while he was in the Orient. But has he forgotten Jemma, now Lady Mosby, and what they had once meant to each other? And will he accept her devil’s bargain?

In every woman’s life, there is that one love who slipped away. The man who makes her wonder “what if?” But is this a momentary madness or a chance to rekindle a love that could last a lifetime?



Everything seemed perfect for Dane and Jemma, but fate intervened. Can these starcross lovers find their true happiness together? They they forgive and forget? Maxwell, as always, plays on your heart strings to create a love that you can't help but root for. This novella is a great and short read. I highly encourage you to purchase it and fall in love with Dane and Jemma's story. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September YA/NA Challenge

If you regularly follow this blog, you are aware that every Summer I only read romance novels. My Summer of Smut. It helps me cope with the chaos that is Summer Reading.

Inspired by my Summer of Smut, I have decided to take a different approach for September. I have decided to dedicate the month of September to Young Adult/New Adult novels. I will predominantly focus on YA novels. Romance is my favorite genre, but YA is a close contender. 

Since I have 2 whole months (sometimes 3 if things are truly hectic) dedicated to my favorite genre, I figured YA needed a little attention as well. I have also included New Adult (NA) in the challenge, because they are closely associated.

As you can see below I went a little hold happy. This does not include the 15 books that are on hold for me.

I’m really excited to start this challenge and I will report at the end of the month on what books I tackled. So far I have finished one and am currently reading two.

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally – Read (amazing!)

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – currently reading for Forever YA Book Club
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski - currently reading


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: Changing Constantinou's Game by Jennifer Hayward

About a year ago I discovered Jennifer Hayward, a new Harlequin Presents author. I received The Divorce Party via Ney Galley and fell in love! I couldn’t wait to read more by her and we have been keeping in touch as she writes more for Harlequin.  You can also check out the interview I did with her last year.

She graciously sent me a new copy of her 4th book, ChangingConstantinou's Game , 2 months before it was released. It arrived and it was perfect timing because I was laid up in the house with a cold. I tore through Changing Constantinou's Game and immediately found that all the points of why I loved The Divorce Party were in Changing Constantinou's Game.

The story starts out with Izzie, a budding journalist who is determined to track down Alexios Constantinou. Too bad she doesn’t realize the man she is tracking down for a story is the same one who is keeping her from succumbing to her fear of elevators as they are stranded for hours. After their elevator ordeal Alex and Izzie spend one night, without regrets, with each other. But is one night ever enough? What happens when they realizes exactly who each other is?

There are many reasons why I love Hayward’s writing, but the best is probably the amount of emotions and scenes she can pack into Harlequin’s standard 189 pages. I said it from the beginning and I will say it again, Hayward could easily turn her stories into full on novels.

Another bonus for me is the fact that the characters deviate from the typical Harlequin couple. Alex is not a bully – yes, he is a little stubborn and quick to jump to conclusions, but he isn’t the typical alpha dominating male that is so typically seen in HP (Harlequin Presents). Izzie is different because she has a backbone and she knows what she wants. Together these two characters come together and fall beautifully in love. Yes, there are some difficult obstacles, but they overcome them like a true couple would.


Changing Constantinou's Game will be out in September so be sure to get your hands on it before it flies off the shelves! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Project Read All the Books: August Recap


Goodbye August, Hello September!

Typically, August is a month filled with down time in a library. We need it to recoup after Summer Reading. Not this year. I filled my month with lots of booking Fall programs, weeding, collection development (thank you State Aid!), and lots of general housekeeping tasks. I was definitely glad August is gone. I felt that I didn’t get as much reading done as I should have. I went out of town 2 weekends in August and read very little during the week.

That being said, according to Goodreads I read 23 books for August. 2 were picture books, 1 graphic novel, and 2 quick middle grade novels.

Obviously I knew August was going to be hectic (or I was tired of not hitting my TBR goal) because I only set my August goal at 5 books. Remember, these are books that come I actually own but haven’t read.
I barely made August’s goal…seriously, I read the 5th book at 8:00pm on August 31st.

What I read…

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
The Billionaire’s Obsession by J.S. Scott
Prince Charming by Julie Garwood
Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost
The Devil She Knows by Kira Sinclair

Time for a recount! It has been a few months since I have done a count of all the books. I’m bad about doing random clean outs and buying books from my Friends bookstore.

Count as of today: 100 books.
Goal for September 5 books.


Also, check out Fun-Sized Reads blog. She just started her own Project Read All the Books. Good Luck to her!
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