Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday (23)

Waiting on Wednesdays is a weekly book meme that lets readers just like you guys know what to be expecting and waiting anxiously for. It is hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. Want to participate? Grab the logo on her page, post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link on her blog!

Stars Over Sunset BoulevardAuthor: Susan Meissner
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: NAL

In this new novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life, two women working in Hollywood during its Golden Age discover the joy and heartbreak of true friendship.

Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind  ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie…

Los Angeles, 1938.  Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her  dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide.  What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future. 
What are you waiting for in the new year?!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Book Review: Until The Dawn

Until The DawnAuthor: Elizabeth Camden
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Bethany House
Series: Until The Dawn # 1

A volunteer for the newly established Weather Bureau, Sophie van Riijn needs access to the highest spot in her village to report the most accurate readings. Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie knows no better option despite a lack of permission from the absent owners.

The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover a local woman has been trespassing on his land.

Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There's a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark and the Vandermark family history are no longer content to stay in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?

“That’s where the body was found, floating facedown in the river,” an ominous voice intoned. “He was stone cold dead.”

She’d never asked permission to install the weather station, but the roof of Dierenpark was now one of the three thousand monitoring stations manned by volunteers who gathered climate data in hopes of creating accurate weather predictions that would make the world a safer place for everyone. And she prayed Quentin Vandermark would not interfere with that.

He wished he could teach Pieter that all it would take was integrity and faith to guide them into a safe and blessed world, but Quentin had long since given up believing in fairy tales.

She could not let Dierenpark be destroyed.

Elizabeth Camden is one of my favorite authors when it comes to writing solid historical fiction. Every new book I read by her leaves me fascinated and excited for the next. I am especially excited when, like with this book, she starts a brand new series. Her books always bring something new to the table; as an author, she is not afraid to try new things and step outside of her comfort zone. This story followed a remarkable plot that was unlike anything she has written before. Main characters, Quentin and Sophie were at odds from the start, but readers can easily see each character’s point of view. Sophie has been one of my absolute favorite heroines that Camden has written. She had so many interesting abilities and attributes that just allowed her to shine in this story!

Quentin, on the other hand, was a bit gloomy and in need of light and hope in his life. His background is understandable and made it all the more enjoyable to see him and Sophie starting to connect and appreciate one another despite their differences. Their banter and dialogue was witty, humorous, and a little harsh towards one another at times, but this only helped to make their relationship more relatable. The house that is the setting contains a breathtaking mystery that unfolds in layers, making the story all the more gratifying; so many things were unfolding and before I knew it I had finished the book and was sitting down to write this review!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the author in exchange for my honest review***

Monday, December 21, 2015

Book Review: The Trouble With Destiny

The Trouble with DestinyAuthor: Lauren Morrill
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey... 

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize. 

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

I am the kind of girl who always seems to be working ten times as hard as everyone else for about 0.06 percent of the credit.

With the practice room switcheroo, it’s obvious that the Athenas are planning to play dirty this week. Which means we’ve got to get dirty right back.

When I planned this cruise, I had lots of ideas about how it would go. I’d hoped we’d win the twenty-five grand to save the band, first of all. After that, we’d stuff ourselves silly off the buffets scattered around the ship. Huck and Hillary and I would hang out on deck, making one another laugh until our sides hurt. Maybe I’d even get a sunburn. I guess I knew it wouldn’t really be that easy, but I never imagined it would be this hard.

Lauren Morrill writes some of the cutest YA contemporary fiction I have ever read. I started with her first book, Meant To Be, back in 2012 and I have followed her newest releases ever since. This particular book was different from anything I have read in the YA genre and I loved the premise behind it. The story follows Liza Sanders, highly esteemed drum major, and her high school band as they venture on a cruise in hopes of winning $25,000 for their school. The best part of being on this cruise was the multitude of funny, lovable characters. Liza is a bit neurotic, but I can understand why she is and I think it is nice for young readers to follow a character that is determined and full of ambition. It was nice to take a cruise with so many goofy and fun-loving characters in the middle of December!

Normally with YA books I get a little frustrated with the “love interests” because they tend to be so played out and predictable. I LOVED that in this book I didn’t even see the love interest coming. The guy that I thought was intended for Liza was a complete jerk and I was beyond thrilled to see him out of the picture. The reason I did not give the book more stars is because of the lull I hit towards the middle. I felt like there was a dry spell with action and character motivation, but that soon picked back up and I was right back into the story again and ready to see how everything turned out for Liza and her band. This book was super cute and really easy to get through in one sitting!

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

Monday, December 14, 2015

Book Review: The Seafront Tearoom

The Seafront Tea RoomsAuthor: Vanessa Greene
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Berkley

From the author of The Vintage Teacup Club
The first rule of afternoon tea: never rush. Take time to savor it. Just like friendship…

The Seafront Tearoom is an insider secret in small-town Scarborough – a beach-front haven with the best tea and cakes in town – and  journalist Charlie Harrison would love to put it on the map with a feature in her magazine. But single mom Kat Murray doesn’t want to see her favorite sanctuary overrun by tourists, and begs Charlie to seek out other options. She offers her help, as a “tea obsessive,” and so does French au pair Séraphine Moreau, whose upbringing makes her a connoisseur of everything sweet and indulgent.

Together the three women will scour the countryside for quaint hideaways and hidden gems, sharing along the way their secrets, disappointments, and dreams – and discovering that friendship, like tea, takes time to steep. But learning too that once you open your heart, the possibilities are endless. 

Kat looked over the counter. She could see the scones that were scenting the air so irresistibly, a Victoria sponge cake and a tray of brownies.

Life moved on, and places changed. She’d find a way to move forward too.

The room buzzed with chatter, and oversized canvases with pictures of teacups adorned the way. The counter, covered in a plastic tablecloth with a flowered print, was laden with cupcakes and muffins.
Tea, cakes, love, and friendship: I believe we can all agree that these are the essentials in life. The latest book by Vanessa Greene provides all of this and more. We meet three beautiful strangers who bond over tea and real life; readers will come to know and adore them as if they were sitting in the tea rooms partaking of the sweets and conversation. Everything about this book is cozy and inviting. The tea rooms and all that goes on there is enough to make anyone want to read the book over and over multiple times. The three women shares stories of heartbreak, passion, secrets, love, and lies. You will bond with the women and most likely find yourself feeling especially pulled to one, if not all three of them.

This was not my first Greene novel, so obviously anyone can tell that I am a fan. Her novels are full of credible characters that will have you laughing out loud one minute and crying the next. Her writing is light-hearted and fun and will be a wonderful way to pass an afternoon or evening all snuggled up with your blanket and a cup of tea. The atmosphere of the tea room is what sold this book for me especially. The way it is described and cherished by all of the locals in the story made me want to be there and be able to visit it every day. All three women want to make a change in their lives and their love of tea and cakes allow them to do so! If that doesn’t sell you, then I don’t know what will!

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

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Book Review: Instructions For The End Of The World

Instructions for the End of the WorldAuthor: Jamie Kain
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

From the author of The Good Sister comes a gripping novel about two sisters who learn that there are things in life—love, loss, and self-discovery—that you simply can't prepare for.

He prepared their family for every natural disaster known to man—except for the one that struck. 

When Nicole Reed’s father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, it's too much too handle for her mother, who abandons them in the middle of the night. Heading out to track her down, Nicole’s father leaves her in charge of taking care of the house and her younger sister, Izzy. For a while, Nicole is doing just fine running things on her own. But then the food begins to run out, the pipes crack, and forest fires start slowly inching their way closer every day. Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help her when she needs it most, but when she starts to develop feelings for him, feelings she knows she will never be allowed to act on once her father returns, she must make a decision. With her family falling apart, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow’s disasters, or will she take a chance and really start living for today?

Instructions for the End of the World is a gripping, young adult novel that explores family, friendship, and love in the midst of the most difficult and dangerous circumstances.

By the time you return, maybe the end will have come.

While you were busy preparing for catastrophe, maybe the worst really did happen, and it wasn’t what you thought it would be at all.

Today is the day my life stopped being my life.
This book has been taking a lot of bad reviews on various social media platforms, but I am here to hopefully help redeem the book for it does some wonderful qualities about it. This story is not your average, every day, run of the mill story. It is different and takes a look at an event that could be possible, but is not your typical young adult story. Nicole Reed’s father is convinced that the end of the world is near, so in preparation he moves Nicole, her mother, and her younger sister to a house in a remote area of the Sierra Foothills. When Nicole’s mother decides this is all too much to bear, she deserts the family leaving her husband with no choice but to come and look for her. Nicole is left behind and left in charge of the house and her little sister, Izzy. Like I said, this is not your average story but I loved the idea behind it and really enjoyed following Nicole on what I imagine to be a pretty scary journey.

This novel focuses on more than just the idea that the world could end, but it also covers major themes like family, relationships, friendships, and trust. I loved the alternating viewpoints of Nicole and Izzy; even though they are sisters, they could not be more different. Everything about this book seemed so realistic and there are people who would take measures such as this, maybe I would as well if I felt as strongly as Nicole’s father. I felt safe and assured in Nicole’s company as she took on the responsibility that was left in her hands by her father. She was an ever-changing and ever-growing character. This type of book is not something I will always pick up, and is something that I have to be in the mood for, but it was a nice change of pace for me compared to what I normally read.

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