Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani

In Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani, Shalini has only known one world: India. She lives in a massive house with 37 of her relatives and loves it. She has been engaged to Vikram, the man of her dreams, since she was three years old. Nothing could spoil her wonderful life…except when her father decides to take a new job and uproot her family to L.A. How could she possibly adjust to this completely different lifestyle? Her little sister seems to jump right in, while her mother struggles more and more with these new surroundings. As Shalini adjusts to live in California, will she be able to hold onto the world she has always known and the person she has always known herself to be?
                I instantly gravitated to Lovetorn because of my unhealthy obsession with anything related to India. This was a pretty easy and straightforward read. The author provides a glossary to help the reader understand the different foods, phrases, and words that Shalini uses. This is a great reference tool and I was really glad it was included. Daswani creates a storyline around Shalini’s mother that I thought was very well written and crucial to Shalini’s struggles to accept this new lifestyle. Some of Shalini’s actions and feelings did not seem genuine to me. I think the author could have spent more time on Shalini’s transition from being completely in love with Vikram to realizing that she might feel different. I would have liked to have seen the author develop more into the secondary characters, especially Sangita, Shalini’s little sister and Toby, an American boy who makes Shalini rethink everything she knows. Other than that, Lovetorn provides an insightful look at the lifestyles of India and the transition that many teen immigrants face.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Wyoming Strong by Diana Palmer Review

Confession time….I can’t help but read Diana Palmer’s books.

If you have read one Diana Palmer book, then you have read them all.

Palmer’s books usually carry the same themes. Young innocent girl meets mid-thirties rugged man. He is uncomfortable with the age difference or there is an instant dislike. Throw in a cattle rancher, a sheriff, maybe an ex-CIA operative and you have a Diana Palmer romance. Sometimes they are historical westerns or contemporary.

Besides Johanna Lindsey, Diana Palmer was one of the first romance authors I was ever introduced to. My mom had mentioned to her co-worker that I was reading romance novels (at 13) and the next thing I know my mom is lugging in a paper bag full of them. Her co-worker was kind enough to lend me dozens of Fabio covered books to educate my young mind. In this bag was Once in Paris, the first book in the Hutton & Co. series by Palmer. I loved this book (and the two sequels) so much that I never returned it with the others in the bag. In fact I still have it.

Over the years, I have continued to check out Palmer’s books…but these books can get a little ridiculous. The love scenes are often full of the most unrealistic dialog. I have read a few aloud to BF just to see his reaction. They are pretty entertaining.

I will give Palmer credit, because she is an insanely prolific writer. She has several hundred books under her belt…yup, hundreds. Out of these several hundreds, I have read about 25. I have tapered off because the level of ridiculousness has increased exponentially. But nothing tops Wyoming Strong.

I grabbed Wyoming Strong off the new shelf because I was looking for something easy and quick to read. Boy, was I in for a treat.

Wyoming Strong does not stray from Palmer’s typical set up. Wolf Patterson is a mid-thirties ex-mercenary who loathes Sara Brandon, who is in her early-twenties. This is a contemporary story set in San Antonio, Texas. The Wyoming reference refers to the series, Wyoming Men.

First off…these are probably two of the most effed up characters that I have ever read about (and I have read Tiffany Reisz and Gillian Flynn!).

Let’s start with Wolf….first it is important to note that Wolf is not a virgin (remember this for later). While on an assignment he falls for a local girl who is cra cra. Every time they have sex, she flips the lights on and makes fun of him…at the most inappropriate moment.  Yeah, so he is pretty screwed up from that.

Sara had a terrible childhood. Her stepfather attempted to rape her when she was 13, but she was saved by her brother and the fact that she has an imperforate hymen.  She is pretty skittish around men, which is to be expected, but she can’t deny that there is an attraction to Wolf.

Things are actually going pretty well in the story. Palmer likes to throw in gamer terminology and she really stepped it up for Wyoming Strong. In previous books, the terminology was generic and seemed like it was only added to confirm the story being set in modern day. I will give her credit for improving in that area.

Now back to Wolf and Sara…here are some issues that I found ridiculous and hilarious…
1.       She calls him “Mr. Patterson” for most of the novel.
2.       She can’t believe that people actually have sex with the lights on.
3.       He knows more about her imperforate hymen then she does.
4.       He has never had an orgasm until Sara.
5.       Crawling Sperm.

Before I explain the crawling sperm, let’s talk about number 4. Remember, when I said that Wolf was not a virgin? Well, he makes it very known that he had never had an orgasm until Sara. Let that sink it. Palmer references him ejaculating with his ex (remember turning on the lights at inappropriate moments?), but according to Palmer, that is not an orgasm.

Now, the crawling sperm. If you had never heard of an imperforate hymen, like I hadn’t, then you might not know that it has to be corrected surgically…therefore making it impossible to have sex without the surgery. This is mentioned in the book, so the couple can’t do the deed just yet…but they do have a heavy petting session that goes pretty bad (remember, both characters are pretty messed up in the head when it comes to sex). Anyways, Wolf mentions to Sara that she might get pregnant. HOLD UP! I kept thinking, “They didn’t have sex!”. That is why Wolf explains to Sara the basics of anatomy when this classic line, “Do you know that sperm are mobile, and they can crawl?”

Yup. Crawling sperm.

And you know what else? She does get pregnant! Oh those crawling sperm.

Don’t believe me? Check out Wyoming Strong and see for yourself. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Review: No Place to Fall

In No Place to Fall  by Jaye Robin Brown, Amber Vaughn is a good Southern girl, who secretly longs for a life outside of her small town.  She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.

 Amber has never left her small town and doesn’t know if she can. Between the drama with her drug dealing sister and brother-in-law, her parents' disastrous marriage, and the new attention of her best friend’s brother, Will, Amber’s life is far from simple. Will she be able to find the courage to make her dreams come true?

Sounds intriguing, which is why I checked out No Place to Fall immediately after it was processed by our Cataloging Department. Too bad the book jacket blurb didn’t paint an accurate portrait of No Place to Fall.

First off, Amber Vaughn is not a good girl. Within the first few pages, she discusses her plans to have sex with a virtual stranger, including almost going through with the deed, eating pot brownies, and actually having sex with someone…and not caring about the fact that he has a girlfriend. She preached about her sister being sucked into the drug dealing world, but Amber was hooking up with the guy that made the pot brownies. I was annoyed because it seemed that there was a big difference between the book jacket blurb and what I was actually reading. I carried on thinking that maybe Amber had to have a big fall from grace before redeeming herself…but no.

I know I’m sounding harsh and yes, I understand that teenagers do stupid shit. If she or any of the other characters actually grew during the story you might be reading a different review. This book was filled with half-ass characters. No one was likable (except Amber’s mom) and all the characters were two-dimensional. I found it impossible to connect with any of them, especially Amber. In fact, all Amber did was get on my nerves. I kept hoping that Amber would redeem herself to the reader. She made some mistakes, but there was still the possibility of a good story. I’m sorry to say that it didn’t happen though. I haven’t disliked a main character this much since Whitley in Kody Keplinger’s A Midsummer’s Nightmare.

The story and the characters were all over the place. There were too many secondary characters and too much going on. It definitely needed to be simplified. Nothing ever came together for me and I’m sorry to say that I wouldn’t recommend this book to my patrons. I think it will check out though because of the cover and the book jacket blurb. Maybe I expected too much. The story was there, but it was lacking the glue to hold it together. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

My Best Reads of 2014

According to my 2014 Goodreads Challenge, I read 237 books in 2014. At least half of these were romance titles and about 40 were picture books. I've gone through and selected my 5 star ratings from the year. Some weren't published in 2014, but that is when I read them so I counted them. I picked my favorite book of 2014 at the bottom.

Young Adult:





Urban Fantasy


Picture Book




So which book was the best read from 2014?
It was actually a tie!

What were your favorite books that you read from 2014?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Why I haven't been reading lately...

There is a good reason for why I haven't been able to read anything lately….because I got a new job!


On December 1st I returned to the Library that gave me my very first library job (part-time in the Children’s Department) and who also gave me my very first full-time position (Circulation).

I returned for the 3rd (and final time I might add) as their new Teen Librarian. I’ve jokingly stated that I’m just working my way through all their departments.

It was very sad to leave my previous position. I learned a lot about working in a smaller branch and made a lot of connections in the town, but I know this move was right.

Check out some of the sweet notes I received from my patrons when I broke the news that I was leaving:
So why haven’t I read anything? Because I have been too busy (and I love that feeling!). I love to be constantly on the go and creating ideas – I don’t know if my mind has shut off in the last month. I’m excited to make an impact in the teen department, in the library as a whole, and in the community. I’m hoping that once I get my feet steady I can return to reading and my Project Read All the Books.

I hope you have a wonderful 2015. May it be filled with as much excitement and positivity as my upcoming year!
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