Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: Delia's Shadow

Delia's Shadow Author: Jamie Lee Moyer
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Tor

A dark, romantic fantasy set against the backdrop of San Francisco devastated by the Great Quake

It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.

Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.

It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.

And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.

That didn’t make telling her any easier or take away the worry of what she’d think. I folded my hands in my lap and swallowed back tears. “What would you say if I told you I thought – I knew – that a ghost was following me? That I was being…haunted.”

Sadie grabbed both my hands. “A real ghost! How exciting. What’s her name?”

The dream began like all the others I’d had, but the ghost didn’t follow behind, waiting for me to find an answer. This time I was inside her skin.

“Dear God in heaven. I’m so sorry, Shadow. So sorry.” I understood the sorrow in her eyes now and some of the reasons she followed me. She’d never gotten home. Shadow needed someone, needed me, to know why.

I was a huge fan of the hit TV series called Ghost Whisperer starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, in which she portrays a woman who can communicate with the deceased and help them solve any unfinished business they may have had while alive. Even though I am not the fan of anything remotely eerie or creepy, I loved this show and own the entire series. My point in saying all this is that Delia’s Shadow reminds me so much of Ghost Whisperer.  Delia Martin can communicate with ghosts and in this story one particular ghost has caused her to travel back home to 1915 San Francisco, only nine years after the huge earthquake that killed both her parents. Delia doesn’t know why, but she knows that the ghost has a connection to San Francisco, and so she decides to go home and find out what that is. Only when she reaches her hometown she discovers there is a serial killer on the loose, a killer who had some connection to Delia’s ghost!

This story is a perfect Halloween read if you are looking for something that is just spooky enough to make the hair on your arms stand on end. The particular ghost that is haunting Delia, and I love how she calls her “Shadow”, has something to do with all the murders that are taking place. I hate anything to do with serial killers, but this particular story line had enough added details to make the story light and not too dark, in a scary sense. I was very involved and interested in Delia’s love interest which transpires after she has returned to San Francisco. Gabe, a detective working on the serial killer case, develops a quick connection with Delia after Sadie, her best friend, plays matchmaker. I was glad that the two joined up!

Delia’s ghost was able to help Gabe, and his partner, Jack, as they tried to solve all the murders that were rampant across town. I also loved the fact that Gabe alludes to this particular serial killer as one that he thought he remembered his dad chasing so many years prior. Everything ties together quite nicely, and San Francisco is a wonderful backdrop. The main and secondary characters are all developed nicely, and I am personally hoping that Moyer is writing more as we speak with these particular characters, especially Delia!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Tor in exchange for my honest review***

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Review: A Study in Silks

A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair, #1)Author: Emma Jane Holloway
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Del Rey
Series: The Baskerville Affair # 1

Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London’s high society. But there’s a murderer to deal with—not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse.
In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines—something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?

But then there’s that murder. As Sherlock’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask.

“Yes, Grandmother Cooper. She knows what dreams mean. I don’t think Grandmamma Holmes would let such fancies through the door. She’d tell the footman to toss them out.”

Clearly, the woman’s life has ended here, at this very spot. It was a good thing that the rows of hooks and hangers along the wall were empty of costly garments that night. The simple white paint in the room made the sprays of blood stand out in gaudy contrast.

She was suddenly all too aware of the constables standing with Lord Bancroft. Her pulse began to speed. There is evidence of murder and dark magic on your cloakroom floor, my lord.
Evelina Cooper, the niece of Sherlock Holmes, is about the start her first season in London society. While staying at the home of her dear friend, Imogen Bancroft, one of the servants turns up murdered. As the niece of one of the most famous detectives of all time, Evelina has no choice but to begin her own investigation. She finds out, rather quickly, that even with her expansive background, she still has much to learn about being a detective and London society in general. Evelina was everything that I imagined someone related to Sherlock Holmes would be. This book was not disappointing in the least!

The world that Emma Holloway has created is an equal mix of steampunk and magic. I could picture it all vividly in my head, as if the words were floating off the pages. London is controlled by the most wealthy steams barons, and magic has been made illegal. Evelina has a passion for both, and this really made her a versatile character. She was a little rogue and went against a lot that her Grandma Holmes hopes she will be. Evelina is most certainly passionate, and this is when I related with her the most. She has dreams and aspirations, and they are far beyond being the wife to a dull, boring husband like her grandmother prefers.

This story, and series I hope, is not just a mystery series, but has elements of romance, historical fiction, and steampunk all wrapped into one. How can you get much better than that? Evelina has a few romantic ventures lined up and it was exciting for, at least, to watch her decision process. Not only that, but set against this backdrop with the steampunk/magical world, it all made for quite a nice treat. Evelina was truly the sales ticket for me and I am so glad that I do not have to wait another year for the next book to release! That really is the best part.

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Del Rey in exchange for my honest review***

Book Review: This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your LifeAuthor: Leila Sales
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

Here we are now. Here we are, the first Thursday evening in April, a full seven months after I slit my wrist and then called Amelia Kindl to tell her all about it. The sun has gone down, and it’s dinnertime in the Myers household.

People also like you more when you ask questions about them, by the way. They like it when you smile, and when you ask them to talk about themselves.

Does this sound ridiculous and dramatic, to decide in the middle of a totally average school day that this has gone on for long enough? Was I overeating? Well, I’m sorry, but that is what I decided. You can’t tell me my feelings are overwrought or absurd. You don’t know. They are my feelings.

That’s what I discovered about myself on the first day of my sophomore year of high school: I didn’t really want to die. I never had. All I ever wanted was attention.

Being a high school English teacher, I must say that I am realizing how frequent bullying really does happen and I feel that it only gets worse and worse. In high school I was never bullied, so reading Elise’s story was a huge wake up call for me. I never had her experience in high school, and honestly it is heart-wrenching. The first few chapters of this book are completely raw, emotional, and honest. Elise tries so hard to fit in and just ends up standing out and being labeled as an outsider. She has low self-esteem and her unspoken thoughts are enough to make anyone shed a tear. I want to tell you all now that this book is maybe not what you would expect YA to be, but it is a new perspective from a character who young readers can admire and learn from.

Elise’s passion is music and when she finally finds a place to fit it, DJing, I could not have been more happy for her. I can relate to Elise in the fact that music was her escape and it kept her sane. Music made up a huge part of this book, and I enjoyed the scenes when Elise was DJing the most. Sales puts off such an energy through Elise as you are reading that you might even find you want to give DJing a try too! Elise finally comes out of her shell and her experience feels all the more real to readers because of the feeling and emotions she uses to express her new, thrilling experience.

The theme that I found most inspiring in this book was acceptance. Elise was finally able to see others accepting her, she started to appreciate her own self-worth, and finally she was able to start accepting herself. My philosophy has always been that you must love yourself first before anyone else can love you! No matter what your experience was in high school, I think everyone can relate to Elise and this book in some way. Everyone has felt different at some point in your life. I had hobbies in school that I thought were geeky or nerdy and I didn’t want to share them with my friends, thinking they might see me as weird. So in that aspect I could relate.

It’s a powerful story with a strong leading character!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Farrar, Straus and Giroux in exchange for my honest review***

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Review: Happy Any Day Now

Happy Any Day NowAuthor: Toby Devens
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: NAL Trade

Every five years my mother had her fortune read by Lulu Cho, owner of the Golden Lotus Massage Club for Men. Now it was my turn. And Lulu predicted one hurricane of a future for me!

Judith Soo Jin Raphael’s childhood was shaped by her hardworking immigrant mother, her father who left them, and her struggles to fit in as a half-Korean, half-Jewish kid in a tough urban neighborhood. But music lessons gave her a purpose and passion. Now, as Judith’s fiftieth birthday nears, she has rewarding work as a cellist with the Maryland Philharmonic, an enthusiastic if uncommitted lover, and a quirky but close relationship with her mother.

Then chaos strikes: Judith’s first love, who dumped her decades ago, returns to dazzle her with his golden pedigree and brilliant career. Her long-absent father arrives out of the blue with a snazzy car and a con man’s patter, turning her mother into a love-struck flirt whom Judith barely recognizes. All this while her mentor at the orchestra falls seriously ill. No wonder Judith develops a paralyzing case of stage fright.

Judith finds herself feeling—and sometimes acting—slightly unhinged, but she’s convinced that happiness will arrive any day now. She’s just got to hold on tight during this midlife shake-up...and claim the prize that life surely has in store for her.

A minute into the agony, I collapsed with the aneurysm that almost killed me.

Blame it on spring fever. Or on the cherry blossom trees that were currently turning the dowdiest parts of a Baltimore into a pink blaze of glory. The flowers bloomed for a few days of gorgeousness and then faded away. But oh, how they lived when they lived. Maybe they weren’t the best inspiration for making a dangerous decision.

So there it was. All laid out for me in living color. Charlie and I moved in different worlds that would only collide if we tried to nudge them closer.

He looked doubtful and kept watch on me throughout rehearsal. He really cared.

Judith Soo Jin Raphael is unlike any other character I have ever met. She is a half Korean, half-Jewish cellist player with the Maryland Philharmonic Orchestra whose father left when she was young and has been raised solely by her immigrant mother. When we meet her in this novel she is approaching her 50th birthday, and chaos literally breaks out in life just when she thought she had everything semi under control. Judith strives to convince herself that happiness will come any day now.

Judith is an awesome character and a perfect guide to take readers through this story. She is written as a flawed character, and at the age of 49 she shows women that not everyone is able to figure their lives out in their 20’s or 30’s. I think this was a bold move for the author, and I enjoyed following Judith. Judith is still learning a lot about herself, and I enjoyed seeing an older woman in this predicament instead of the usual 20 or 30 year old that has just been dumped, embarrassed, lost their job, and the list goes on and on. Judith was just the dose of quirkiness that I needed!

Not only did I love Judith, but I also loved most every other character that Devens shares with us. I love Judith’s mom and Geoff the best. However, it was quite interesting to see how Charlie fit in the scenario as well. Charlie, Judith’s old flame, came back into the picture unexpectedly and it was very interesting to see Judith deal with all of the commotion and uproar in her life. All of the characters in this story were real and relatable and made Judith’s journey all the better!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at NAL Trade in exchange for my honest review***

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

Marie Antoinette, Serial KillerAuthor: Katie Alender
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.

I had a vision of myself visiting a museum in Paris, and an old curator spotting the medallion hanging around my neck. He’d get really excited and then tell me that my family had been noble and prominent. And the rest of the girls on the trip would gather around, and even though they’d be too cool to act impressed, inside, they all secretly would be.

There was just something about Hannah that made you feel like your contract was always up for cancellation with her. But even with that ever-present uncertainty, the benefits of being her friend far outweighed the negatives.

I’d never been to a real city where you could just run downstairs and find grocery stores or a cafĂ©. It felt so connected, so alive, as if the place were feeding off the energy of the people who lived in it. And the people were magical.

I have always been a huge fan of Marie Antoinette and anything to do with Paris, so the cover of this book immediately drew me in. This story follows Colette Iselin as she journeys on a school trip to Paris, France with some of her classmates. Once in France, she learns that there is a serial killer on the loose that has been beheading their victims. Immediately she starts seeing visions of a woman dressed in classical style with a powdered wig, reminding her tremendously of Marie Antoinette. She soon realizes that the pendant she wears around her neck is a common symbol in France, and with the help of a French friend she soon discovers secrets about her own family as well as the history of the country she has admired for years.

Alender was able to take a story that has roots in the past and give it a modern feel. I would be lying if I said that I did not question the plot before reading, because I definitely did. I was wondering how it was all going to fall into place, but surprisingly enough it did. Once I realized that Colette and Marie Antoinette shared some type of connection I was hooked and unable to retreat! When I learned that a secret society was involved, I was immediately regretting my decision to ever question a plot like this one. This book is honestly filled with so many moments that will have you biting your nails and gasping for more.

The greatest part of this book was watching Colette come into her own. Her two best friends were the most gosh awful characters ever invented in YA literature. They were so shallow and disgusting that I almost wanted to stop reading. Both were so fake and made Colette act like something that she was not at all. I was questioning my liking for Colette because of the way that she behaved whenever she was around them. I was happy to see her start to change and develop as the story progressed!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Scholastic Press in exchange for my honest review***

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Love's Awakening

Love's Awakening (The Ballantyne Legacy, #2)Author: Laura Frantz
Publication Date: September 2013
Publisher: Revell
Series: The Ballantyne Legacy # 2

Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has left finishing school. But back at her family home in Pittsburgh, Ellie finds that her parents are away on a long trip and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. When she opens a day school for young ladies, she begins tutoring the incorrigible daughter of the enemy Turlock clan. The Turlocks are slaveholders and whiskey magnates, envious of the powerful Ballantyne’s and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly tangled with the Turlocks, she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future--and Jack Turlock, a young man striving to free himself from his family's violent legacy. How can she betray her family and side with the enemy? And will Jack ever allow her into his world?

His features has always been sharply handsome, almost hawkish, his hair the color of summer straw, not whiskey-dark like Wade’s. That he was a worldly man there could be no doubt. He even moved with an ease and agility far removed from the stiff formality of society’s drawing rooms. He was, in a word, different. And dangerous. Father would not approve.

Father cannot see me like this. Even the help will be scandalized. I’ll make Jack leave me at the gate – no, the lane – before reaching home…

He turned away, wanting no reminder of Ellie. She was, he’d be willing to wager, thinking the same of him.

Ellie is the youngest and most favored child of Silas and Eden. Her story begins when she leaves finishing school and decides to return to her family home. When she returns, she realizes that her parents are away and her older siblings, crazily jealous of her, do not want her around. Ellie has made up her mind not to let her older siblings run her off just because of their immature actions, so she decides to open a day school for young women. Ellie finds herself teaching the youngest Turlock girl, Chloe, even though their families have been mortal enemies for years. Not only would her parents disagree about her teaching Chloe, but they would certainly not approve of her interactions with Jack Turlock either. Will this cause a riff in the family? How will Ellie ever handle herself in this trying situation?

Ellie is a unique character, and being a teacher myself, I was really able to relate to her. My favorite part of Ellie’s journey was learning her background and that of the Ballantyne’s and Turlock’s as well. The Underground Railroad was a wonderful touch to comment on both the setting and the times Frantz has dropped readers into. She definitely does her homework and incorporates details as closely related to what’s written in the history books! Ellie is a fantastic heroine, and when she is accompanied by Jack I just don’t think you can find a better pair.

Frantz has the ability to make me gasp, cry, and cringe all in one book. Every character is so full of life, and Chloe was among my favorite in this book. She brings out a light in Ellie and bridges the families that have been feuding as long as the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. I usually find myself either shocked, surprised or both while reading one of Frantz’s novels. She has a remarkable gift for writing! If you are looking for a brand new series to start, pick up the first two books in The Ballantyne Legacy today!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Revell in exchange for my honest review***

***Available September 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.***

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Bran New Death

Bran New DeathAuthor: Victoria Hamilton
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Berkley
Series: Merry Muffin Mystery # 1

Expert muffin baker Merry Wynter is finally ready to turn her passion into a career. But when a dead body is found on her property, she’s more worried about cooking up an alibi…

Merry is making a fresh start in small-town Autumn Vale, New York, in the mansion she’s inherited from her late uncle, Melvin. The house is run-down and someone has been digging giant holes on the grounds, but with its restaurant-quality kitchen, the place has potential for her new baking business. She even has her first client—the local retirement home.

Unfortunately, Merry soon finds that quite a few townsfolk didn’t like Uncle Mel, and she has inherited their enmity as well as his home. Local baker Binny Turner and her crazy brother, Tom, blame Melvin for their father’s death, and Tom may be the one vandalizing her land. But when Tom turns up dead in one of the holes in her yard, Merry needs to prove she had nothing to do with his death—or her new muffin-making career may crumble before it starts...

As a metaphor for my life, the crossroads rocked.

“Well, Binny claims that your great-uncle Melvyn killed her daddy. Rusty Turner, and buried him somewhere on the grounds of Wynter Castle. We think the holes have something to do with her, or with her brother, but we can’t prove it.”

“I wish I had my Granny’s cookbooks here,” I said, standing at the counter and looking at the pile of ingredients uneasily. “The bacon and cheddar muffins yesterday were easy; just a basic, savory muffin recipe. I vaguely remember the proportions necessary for bran muffins, but I wish I was sure.”

Every month I have to get my cozy mystery fix. This month I chose to do that with a brand new series! This series follows Merry Wynter as she moves to a small town called Autumn Vale, which is located in New York. Merry inherits a castle from her last uncle, Melvyn. Merry sees the potential remaining in the rundown castle, and decides to use it for her new baking business. However, Merry soon learns that quite a few people didn’t care for her Uncle Melvyn, and she soon realizes that her enemies outweigh her friends!

First of all, the setting in this book is to die for! I loved being in upstate New York, in a castle none the less that was filled with amazing scents and concoctions coming from Merry’s bakery. I knew immediately that Merry’s new inherited castle would need some tender loving care, and when she got there and noticed just how much work it did need, I knew that we were in for an incredible journey. Everything about this new series was cozy and really put me in the mood for fall.

I wanted to be friends with almost all the characters in this book. Not only does Hamilton build this fascinating mystery and backstory for Merry and her Uncle Melvyn, but she creates these characters that allow readers to take a real interest in the story. Everything is so pleasant and welcoming about this book, except for the dead body! Merry is a wonderful protagonist, and I cannot wait to read this next book in this series!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Berkley in exchange for my honest review***

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Book Review: The Harder The Fall

The Harder the FallAuthor: Lauren Barnholdt
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Aladdin
Series: Girl Meets Ghost # 2

Kendall has a crush—and the ghost of his mother has something to say about it. The second book in a hilariously haunting tween series.

Kendall Williams talks to dead people all the time. Like it or not, it’s kind of her thing—the ghosts need her help resolving issues from when they were alive, and she’s good at figuring out their problems.

What she can’t figure out, however, is why the ghost of her crush’s mother is haunting her. It’s hard enough to like a guy and hope to impress his parents, but when his mom keeps visiting from beyond the grave, making the right impression seems downright impossible! Can Kendall help with family matters without risking her relationship?

I can see ghosts. That, in and of itself, is completely scandalous. I’m only twelve!

And then I do the last thing you should probably do right after a boy has kissed you. I scream.

The real reason I think I don’t want my dad to be with Cindy is because I don’t want things to change. I’m happy with the way things are. My dad and I take care of each other.

The cemetery across the street from my house is where I do my best work. I know it sounds creepy, but I think it might be because there are all those bodies around. Just bodies, though – not ghosts. Ghosts don’t congregate at the cemetery, despite what all those ridiculous ghost stories will have you believe.

A tween age girl that can see and talk to ghosts – yes, it always does make for an interesting read. This is the second book in the Girl Meets Ghost series, and we pick right back off with Kendall Williams in exactly the same place we left off in the first book. Kendall has a major crush on Brandon Dunham, whose mom is a ghost and doesn’t want Kendall around. Not to mention Kendall bumps into a completely new ghost, Lyra, while wandering around a new salon that just opened up. Between dealing with her ghosts, her dad getting serious with his new girlfriend, and her best friend thinking she has lost her mind, Kendall just doesn’t know what to do!

Kendall is a witty and sassy character for someone as young as she is. She always has witty comebacks and never misses a beat. She is not a perfect character, and I love that she is still coming into her gift of being able to talk to ghosts. She hasn’t quite got it all figured out yet, but that is part of the beauty of reading and watching her grow up. I love that she is balancing more than one ghost again in this book, just like the first one. I am still not sure about Brandon’s mom, or how I feel about Brandon and Kendall’s relationship. I am just partial to Kendall and don’t want to see her hurt.

I love how the other characters in this series are playing a bigger part in the story this time around. Her dad is getting serious with Cindy, and Kendall’s best friend is starting to question her odd habits, like talking to herself all the time, a little more. Not to mention the new characters that have been added to the story, not only Lyra but her obnoxious brother as well. As always, I am impressed with Barnholdt’s ability to keep me wrapped up in a story. I love her writing, and whether it’s directed at the YA audience or middle grades, you will always find me reading her stories!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Aladdin in exchange for my honest review***


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: New Money

New Money: A NovelAuthor: Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

A young Southern woman of modest means suddenly finds herself thrust into New York's high society when she discovers that she is the illegitimate daughter of a recently-deceased billionaire.

Savannah Morgan had high hopes. She dreamed of becoming a writer and escaping her South Carolina town, where snooty debutantes have always looked down on her. But at twenty-four, she's become a frustrated ex-cheerleader who lives with her mother and wonders if rejecting a marriage proposal was a terrible mistake. Then Savannah's world is shaken when she learns the father she never knew is Edward Stone, a billionaire media mogul who has left Savannah his fortune on the condition that she move to Manhattan and work at his global news corporation. Putting aside her mother's disapproval, Savannah dives head first into a life of wealth and luxury that is threatened by Edward's other children--the infuriatingly arrogant Ned and his sharp-tongued sister, Caroline, whose joint mission is to get rid of Savannah. She deals with their treachery along with her complicated love life, and she eventually has to decide between Jack, a smooth and charming real estate executive, and Alex, a handsome aspiring writer/actor. Savannah must navigate a thrilling but dangerous city while trying to figure out what kind of man her father truly was.

New Money is a keenly observed, exciting peek into a world of privilege and glamour with a spirited and charming heroine at its center.

They obviously saw me as one of those dateless women who dress in costumes for Renaissance Festivals and knit sweaters for cats and fret about the possibility of their lady parts rotting if they don’t get some soon.

I’d forgotten that a pulled-tight bun was part of the official Library Lady uniform.

Another apology. He was about sixteen and I was twenty-four, and he’d probably been taught to respect his elders and to call women ma’am. It was the southern way. I’d been taught to forget them.

Only that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to go places, see things, and write award-winning novels that would fly off bookstore shelves.

I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of this book. Whenever I hear the term “New Money”, I immediately think of The Great Gatsby, with Old vs. New Money and East vs. West Egg. This book falls into some of the same Old vs. New Money stigma as Gatsby, but with a more modern twist. The story follows Savannah Morgan, a main character that I loved, as she discovers at the age of twenty-four that her father was a very rich man named Edward Stone and he has left her quite the inheritance. The only downfall is that she must move to New York City to work in his company under his legitimate children. Did I forget to mention that Savannah was conceived as part of an affair? Yeah, so her presence does not fly well with Edward Junior and Caroline, her half siblings. Savannah quickly becomes emerged in the New York social scene and develops quite a thrilling love life for herself while trying to balance her new life!

This story was very fast-paced and kept me entertained one hundred percent. Savannah was already an interesting character before we find out about her father, but following her to New York and watching her deal with her snobby half siblings is even better. Savannah was a highly likeable, at least for me, and was open to embracing the side of her life that she never knew about until now. She didn’t pry too much into finding out who her father was, and I found that odd at times, but she tried to be open and realistic about the situation. Savannah’s move to New York was very liberating and it was amazing to see how she embraced every challenge and conquered some of her most buried fears.

The secondary characters were definitely my favorite part of this book. There were two in particular that I enjoyed the most. I loved Tony, Savannah’s personal chauffeur and her best friend, Tina. Tony was probably the most genuine person that I came across while reading this book, and was always open and very respectful to Savannah. His story was precious and I absolutely adored him. However, Tina was a little less genuine and definitely had some Daddy issues. Tina depended on Savannah a lot more than she realized, and I was very happy to see her branching out of her shell more towards the middle of the novel. They were both great editions to the story!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review***

Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review: The Good Wife

The Good WifeAuthor: Jane Porter
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Series: Brennan Sisters # 3

Is it possible to love someone too much?

Always considered the beauty of the family, the youngest Brennan sister, Sarah, remains deeply in love with her husband of ten years. Boone Walker, a professional baseball player, travels almost year-round while Sarah stays home and cares for their two children. Her love for her husband is bottomless—so much so that her sisters say it will end up hurting her.

Living apart most of the time makes life difficult, especially since Sarah often wonders whether Boone is sharing his bed with other women on the road, even though he swears he’s been true to her since his infidelity three years ago. While she wants to be happy and move forward in her life, Sarah constantly fears that Boone will break his promise. Now with Boone facing yet another career change, tension rises between the two, adding more stress to an already turbulent marriage. Emotionally exhausted, Sarah can’t cope with yet another storm. Now, she must either break free from the past and forgive Boone completely, or leave him behind and start anew…

Baking gave her a sense of purpose. Purpose was good. Purpose got her out of bed in the morning. Purpose would get her through the day.

“I know it. And I miss you, too. I’ll be very glad when you’re back home with me, where you belong.”

Sarah needed to turn off her Facebook app on her iPhone and sleep. It was late, nearly midnight, after a very intense day. It felt good to be on Facebook, reading all of her friends’ updates. Made her feel almost normal again. As if life would one day be normal again.

“Just make sure there are lots of Oreos. That’s all I really need.”

I have followed the Brennan Sisters series all the way through and wouldn’t miss a chance to review a book by Jane Porter. As always, she brings dramatic, wholly developed characters and their raw, untethering emotions to the drawing board. This story follows Sarah, the youngest Brennan sister, as she deals with her husband’s infidelity. All Porter’s stories focus on real every day issues, struggles, drama, relationship issues, and most importantly self-discovery. Porter has a way of writing these characters so that they are believable and completely molded by the situations they live through. The Brennan sisters have really came through some hard times and struggles. It speaks mountains for Porter that she can write about these women in the fashion that she does. Just when you think they are never going to see the light of day, they break through out of the darkness.

Sarah was my favorite Brennan sister to watch develop and grow. In my opinion, she is the most damaged and has the most baggage to carry home. My favorite characters to read about are the ones that transform from a weak, scared kitten into a brave, roaring lion or lioness! Sarah definitely fits into this category, and the majority of this book follows her as she struggles to gain control of her own life and stop letting her inner demons have full control. Her husband, Boone, was unfaithful at one point in their marriage and Sarah’s constantly fears that he will cheat again. Her fear and obsession is expected for someone in her shoes, and her character is made all the more believable because of it.

What I love most about Porter’s novels is the fact that we get to see and revisit other characters, such as the other Brennan sisters that we have met in previous books. I love catching up with them and watching them interact with their sister Sarah. In fact, this was my favorite book as far as their interaction goes because Sarah is the youngest, and it is always fascinating to watch siblings protect and comfort the youngest. Their relationship as sisters is nowhere near perfect, but their interactions are sometimes the only warm and inviting things in a world filled with deep struggles and betrayal.

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Berkley Trade in exchange for my honest review***