Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid



One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: June 7, 2016 by Atria Books - Washington Square Press
Source: ARC from the publisher
From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a "Best Book of the Summer" by Glamour and USA TODAY—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancĂ© who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancĂ©, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying. [goodreads]

This was my second experience with a Taylor Jenkins Reid novel, and just like the first, I really appreciated this unique storyline that causes the reader to stop and think -- to question the character's choices, and their decisions.  I've come to realize that reading one of her novels will give me much more than just a story to be lost in, it will provide a reading experience that will stay with me long after I've turned the last page.

Emma thought she had her whole adventurous life ahead of her, along side her partner Jesse.  The two of them would travel the world together, live in the moment, and settle down later when the time was right.  What she didn't foresee was Jesse being lost at sea and the aftermath destroying every cell in her body.  The moments as Emma stumbles numbly through the grief and loss of her husband were achingly real.  I felt the pain Emma felt, I could hear her sorrows through the written words.

Just when she thought she couldn't come back from this, she somehow finds her way home.. to her family, to a life she was so insistent on leaving all those years ago with Jesse.  And in return, as she heals, she discovers a new part of herself, also discovering a new love in a long ago friend named Sam.  It was these moments in the story when I felt as though Emma's true character really shined.  Sure she was having the time of her life seeing the world with Jesse, but at the end of the day, being home with her family and making a new life with Sam was where I truly felt she belonged.  So when the phone call came that Jesse was alive, it not only threw Emma for a loop, but it also had my literary heart torn in half.

How does one choose?  Or do they even choose?  I honestly could not imagine being in Emma's shoes in that moment.  I felt that her actions were honest, though sometimes a bit vulnerable and definitely a bit messy, they were REAL.  She didn't choose to break away from Jesse, her husband, he was stolen -- ripped right out of her life.  And she never considered having to start all over again by finding a new life, a new Emma, with Sam.  I knew the decisions she had to make were not going to be easy, and her path in getting there was going to be constant with road blocks and detours.

This novel is so much more than just a love story, it's words about rediscovering who you are as a person, without your other half.  It's how to put one foot in front of the other when your legs seem to stop working.  It's about making choices that aren't necessarily easy, but definitely right.  I applaud this author for pushing the limits and creating a storyline that causes the reader to stop and think, to question "what would I do in this situation?".  That is the true beauty of literature -- taking a story and making it your own.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Blog Tour: Summer Days + Summer Nights - Twelve Love Stories



Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Edited by Stephanie Perkins
Published: May 17, 2016 by St. Martin's Griffin
Source: ARC provided by the publisher
Internationally bestselling author Stephanie Perkins brought together some of her closest friends and fellow bestselling young adult authors for the holiday anthology My True Love Gave to Me that a starred Publisher’s Weekly called “a rare holiday treat” and Romantic Times claimed “this is what all anthologies should aspire to be”. Now, she’s doing it again with SUMMER DAY AND SUMMER NIGHTS: Twelve Love Stories, another anthology filled with twelve new stories from a superstar lineup of young adult authors. Already receiving rave reviews, this anthology is the perfect beach companion for those long, hazy summer days.

Featuring twelve brand new short stories from:

Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss, My True Love Gave To Me)
Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows, The Grisha Trilogy)
Francesca Lia Block (Love in the Time of Global Warming)
Veronica Roth (The Divergent Trilogy)
Lev Grossman (The Magicians Trilogy)
Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments Series)
Jennifer E. Smith (The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love, The Geography of You and Me)
Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty)
Tim Federle (The Great American Whatever)
Nina LaCour (Everything Leads to You, You Know Me Well)
Jon Skovron (Misfits, Man Made Boy)
Brandy Colbert (Pointe)

SUMMER DAY AND SUMMER NIGHTS, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

As someone who absolutely adores summertime and romance, it's no wonder I was ecstatic to be asked to review this anthology as part of its book tour.  I treasure the idea of a story being told with simplicity, yet such an enriching concept of losing oneself to a different set of stories, all centered around love.

I decided to choose my most favorite story to share for this review, and that belongs to the talented beauty behind this great anthology of Summer Days and Summer Nights: In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins.  It's a short, sweet, and to the point story about two young friends who almost missed each other, and their fates.  Marigold is on a mission to seek out North, her ex-boyfriend that dumped her just a few months ago after she broke the news about leaving town.  She's come back now, in an attempt to rescue him from this small town in the mountains, where he's working the lifts that take tourists up into the Appalachian scenery.

Immediately I felt as though I knew these characters and understood their past that was quickly catching up to their present.  Marigold set out to claim her best friend back, and possibly coax him into moving to Atlanta with her.  What she doesn't expect are the feelings that come tumbling back down the minute she's there with North.  Oh how I love North's quirky, yet cool personality.  I knew there was something much deeper with him when it came to Marigold, it just needed a second chance to surface.  And here is that exact second chance waiting to happen.

Stephanie Perkins is always a win for me.  She knows just when to keep things light and easy, but oh man can she throw the punches and leave your heart aching.  Her talents shine through in not only a three-book series, but also in short story form too.  It's no wonder she is the reason for this delightful, enchanting, and oh so romantic anthology.  A definite must read for the summer!


Monday, May 16, 2016

Giveaway: AFTERWARD by Jennifer Mathieu [+ other goodies!]


I am happy and honored to be hosting a giveaway for Jennifer Mathieu's upcoming YA, AFTERWARD, on my blog today.  As someone who is a fan of emotional contemporary YA, I have a feeling this story will stay with me long after it's been read.  Find out more details on the book below, and enter for your chance to win a signed ARC + a sweet swag pack of bookish goodies (all courtesy of the author).




About the book: A tragic kidnapping leads to an unlikely friendship in this novel about finding light in the midst of darkness from the author of The Truth About Alice.

When eleven-year-old Dylan Anderson is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of fifteen-year-old Ethan Jorgensen, who had gone on a bike ride four years earlier and had never been seen again. Dylan's older sister, Caroline, can't help but wonder what happened to her brother, who has nonverbal autism and is not adjusting well to life back home. There's only one person who knows the truth: Ethan. But Ethan isn't sure how he can help Caroline when he is fighting traumatic memories of his own captivity. Both Caroline and Ethan need a friend, however, and their best option just might be each other.


About the Giveaway:

One winner will receive...
+Signed ARC of Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu
+Postcards with a playlist for the main characters, Ethan and Caroline
+Bookmarks & stickers
+A guitar pick necklace & guitar pick key chain

Giveaway is open internationally!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Add the book to GOODREADS
Preorder from AMAZON |  Preorder from favorite local indie BLUE WILLOW BOOKSHOP

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

#UnexpectedlyEpic Morgan Matson Week: I Dare You To...


Mostly YA Lit's Unexpectedly Epic Morgan Matson Week banner

Hi, friends! I am super pumped to be involved in the #MorganMatsonWeek festivities, hosted by the super awesome Tiff from Mostly YA Lit.  All week long, be sure to visit her blog as she'll be featuring fun and inspiring posts all about Morgan Matson's books.  As a fangirl myself, I knew I wanted to be apart of this #UnexpectedlyEpic week long event!

Today, I am participating in a dare, a very Sloane and Emily thing to do (from one of Matson's novels, Since You've Been Gone).  In the story, Sloane leaves behind a list of dares for Emily to accomplish.  What begins as a fun, out of the box experience, quickly evolves into Emily taking risks and finding out who she truly is when she steps out from behind her best friend's shadow.  Dares can be scary, and exciting -- thankfully the dare I was given is more on the tamer side.

My Dare: Post a blog post "confession" about something that you wish you could really say to someone.

My Confession: I wish I could go back in time and tell 20 year old Ginger A LOT of things.  For my dare, I'm going to confess a bit of word vomit as to what I wish I could tell my younger self.  

First of all, you are so not fat.  Quit looking in the mirror and judging your body based on unrealistic beauty.  I know you have a hard time accepting it now, but truly, your beauty is deep inside.  That kind heart your family has pointed out to you before?  THAT is your beauty.  Let it shine through.  And oh what a gorgeous sight it can be.

Second, get serious about your future career.  I know it seems daunting right now, and you think you don't know what you "want to be", but try something, anything, to get your feet wet.  Sitting on the side lines and letting life pass you by is also allowing opportunities to be missed.  Just remember, if you're not happy with something, you always have the control to change it.  

Third, say yes to the nice guys more often, and don't be afraid to reject the assholes.  I know he may seem charming right now, and yeah he's definitely super cute, but just like your own beauty, his true colors come from within.  Pay attention to the qualities that matter, and give the kind ones a chance.

And fourth, stop being annoyed by your mother's presence.  Yes, there are certain quirks about her that get on your nerves, I get that.  But so much sooner than you, or anyone else, had ever imagined.. she will be gone, forever.  You will miss those little bothersome qualities and wish with all your heart that you could simply just talk to her, see her, feel her warm hugs and unconditional love.  It will be an ache that will never go away.  Prepare yourself, young Ginger.  You're a strong woman, and you'll see through to the other side.  But please, oh please, love on your sweet mama right now.  Your time with her is precious moments soon to be gone.

Dare accomplished!  Be sure to check out Mostly YA Lit, and follow the #UnexpectedlyEpic #MorganMatsonWeek hashtags on social media to see more dares being fulfilled.  And if you haven't already, check out Morgan Matson's books (my personal favorite: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour).



Mostly YA Lit's Unexpectedly Epic Morgan Matson Week button

Monday, May 2, 2016

What Did You Read This Month? || April Edition


In which I share the books I read (or attempted to read) this month + other bookish ramblings...


Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon [A beautifully told YA - goodreads]
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid [Oh this book! See my first thoughts here]
Act Like It by Lucy Parker [A quick, enjoyable read]
Going the Distance by Julianna Keyes [5 star read! See my first thought here]
Just Once by Julianna Keyes [My love for this author continues...]
Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino [Emotional, enjoyable read, but...]

Stand-out Novel This Month: Going the Distance by Julianna Keyes -- I practically binge read all her novels in March and April.  Her writing just speaks to me, both sexy and smart.  I love adult contemporary romances that give depth to their stories and this one delivered in all the right places.

Books I Started, But Haven't Finished Yet: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson -- as a huge Matson fangirl, I am taking my time with this one.  Her writing is among my favorites when it comes to contemporary YA.  This story has a slow pace, but one I want to savor.  Look for my involvement with #UnexpectedlyEpic #MorganMatsonWeek coming soon!!


And to keep with the "unexpected" theme... this month a few disasters happened in my world.  Some small, some quite large.  I sat on a broken stool (that I kept meaning to get rid of!) and fell off.  On the way down, I braced myself with my left hand and ended up spraining it pretty good.  After a quick trip to emergency care, some good pain killers, and a nifty looking hand brace -- I was on the mend.  My students got a kick out of my new accessory, that's for sure, ha.  My hand is back to normal now, thank goodness.

Here in Houston, we experienced historic floods a few weeks ago.  It basically shut down the city for a few days, and literally shut things down on my side of town for the whole week -- schools were closed and I was forced to stay home!  Thankfully myself and my family were safe and dry.  A lot of friends and colleagues didn't get so lucky though.  People are still cleaning up after the flood, and roads are still closed due to over flowing reservoirs and dams. Yikes.

Looking ahead... so many books I've been looking forward to are releasing in May.  My review pile is a bit out of control.  But I am determined to get to them all... eventually!


 
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