Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Review: The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian
Published: April 26, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Source: ARC from the publisher
What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?

While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost always outweighs the risk.


It’s the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley’s first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it’s not always clear what’s worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory. [goodreads]

The Last Boy and Girl in the World is not only my first read of 2016, but it is also my first 5-star read of the year.  What an amazing story to set the bar for my literary year ahead.  I've been a fan of Siobhan Vivian's writing since I first encountered her work with Not That Kind of Girl.  Her storytelling has the ability to grab you when you least expect it, filling a void you didn't quite know you were missing until you're completely consumed by her words.

This particular novel hits close to my own personal experiences, but not until recently.  Here in Houston, we encountered some historic floods within the last week.  As I sat at home, safe and dry, since the school districts were closed and all the main roads were basically impassable due to high water, I found myself reflecting on Siobhan Vivian's story.  Her words began to take on a new form, creating a more personal connection to Keeley and the town she has to leave, yet feels completely tied to.

Though my city did not collapse and become wiped off the map due to the floods, it still had me thinking -- what if it did?!  How can someone pack up all their belongings and leave behind the only home their family has ever known due to complications according to mother nature (and perhaps something else)??  Keeley's story goes deeper than just physically moving away from her childhood home, it also symbolizes her moving on from a part of her youth and into a new young adulthood.  She's forced to look at friendships, relationships, and even her parents in a new light.  Keeley must learn to live with the consequences of her choices, all while beginning again whether she planned for it or not.

If you're a fan of emotional contemporary YA, that goes beyond just superficial relationships, and really takes a closer look at the inner workings of how people react under unexpected circumstances, then I highly recommend this novel.  It's a story that now has a personal connection to my own story, one that will come to mind when I think about all the "what if's" and how a town, a community, a family must learn to gather and resettle, creating a new story to be told.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review: Off the Hook by Laura Drewry

Off the Hook by Laura Drewry
Pubished: April 12, 2016 by Loveswept
Source: ARC from the publisher
Welcome to The Buoys, a West Coast haven where love comes in with the tide. Perfect for readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery, the Fishing for Trouble series features three unforgettable brothers—each of whom is a great catch.

Major league pitcher Liam O'Donnell knows his best days are probably behind him, but that doesn't mean he's ready to retire and become a fishing guide. Still, after all the time he's spent chasing his dreams, he owes it to his brothers to pull his weight around the lodge. The Buoys is their father's legacy, and they can't let some developer take it from them. The one snag Liam isn't counting on is a blast from the past: his ex-wife.

The moment Kate Hadley steps out of the seaplane, she knows this assignment is going to be trickier than she thought. She has to persuade the owners to sell—and one of them is Liam O'Donnell. Ten years ago, she made the biggest mistake of her life when she married Liam during a fling in Vegas. Now he's her only lifeline in the middle of nowhere. Kate's trying to keep things cool, but Liam just reminds her of the scorching few nights they spent together—and tempts her to make new memories that are just as steamy as the old. [goodreads]

Reading this adult novel brought back a lot of fond memories from the Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis.  I can definitely see why the publisher recommends fans of that series to try this one, because as someone who adores that series, I am definitely becoming a new fan of this one.  The setting for this story is in the pacific northwest, in a remote town nestled in the trees, just off the coast.  Immediately I could picture the Inn and its charming characteristics.  It was obvious to me that this place had a lot of history and love left in it.  It just needed a good scrub down, with the right management to bring this place back to life.

The back story between Kate and Liam was both steamy and intriguing.  The tension between these two characters as they were unexpectedly reunited was smoldering from page to page.  Kate comes to the island to revitalize the Inn in hope of making profits again, but she's forced to work side by side with Liam, her ex-husband.  It was obvious their story wasn't over, even after all these years, and in due time they'd have to face what they'd walked away from so many years ago.

I loved the cast of characters as well.  Seeing glimpses of their stories has me guessing what might lay ahead for them.  Off the Hook has definitely hooked me, in which I'm eager to come back for more.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Review: Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods

Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods
Published: May 10, 2016 by Crown Books for Young Readers
Source: ARC from publisher
Fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Jenny Han will fall in love with this heartfelt and humor-laced debut following one girl’s race to find the guy of her cosmic dreams.

When zodiac-obsessed teen Wilamena Carlisle discovers a planetary alignment that won’t repeat for a decade, she’s forced to tackle her greatest astrological fear: The Fifth House—relationships and love.

But when Wil falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the astrology chart, she must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her dead mother’s legacy and the very system she’s faithfully followed through a lifetime of unfailing belief. [goodreads]

Oh what a sweet, poignant journey Wilamena takes us on.  She's followed star charts her whole life, always looking to the skies for advice and guidance.  It was her mother who first introduced her to the cosmic soul floating above them, as they would lay in the grass at night searching the stars for the stories to be told.  When Wilamena loses her mother at a young age, it is the stars she must rely on and hold fast to, in fear of losing her way.

She's on a mission to meet the boy who's been written in the stars for her.  Just when she thinks everything has been perfectly aligned, it's another boy who comes crashing in, shaking up everything she ever thought to be true.  In a struggle to follow her mother's wishes, and following her own heart, Wilamena discovers that sometimes life isn't always a mapped out path in the stars.  Sometimes we must create our own destinies.

I loved the quirky charisma that shines through in this novel.  From the setting of the small town, to the people who inhabit it, and the relationships that are built around it, I was truly soaking up each word.  There's something authentic I can't quite put my finger on, but felt so honest throughout while reading.  Darcy Woods is an author to definitely keep an eye on, for her talent intrigues me and has me wanting to read more by her.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Review: SUMMER SKIN by Kirsty Eagar

Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar
Published: February 1, 2016 by Allen & Unwin (Australia)
Source: Purchased from overseas (& totally worth the wait in shipping!)
Jess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even.

The lesson: don't mess with Unity girls.

The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold . . . and smart enough to keep up with Jess.

A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig - sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they're at their most vulnerable?

It's all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy's stuff. Just your typical love story.

A searingly honest and achingly funny story about love and sex amid the hotbed of university colleges by the award-winning author of Raw Blue.

"Taking a keen look at modern day intimacy in a hook-up culture, Summer Skin expertly shatters notions of slut shaming and the pull of sexual desire. Realistic, modern and moving, the story of Jess and Mitch is as smart as it is hot. Kirsty Eagar has written the feminist love story that girls have been waiting for." Clementine Ford [goodreads]

This book popped up on my radar sometime last year, where I promptly added it to my to-be-read list, making a mental note to pre-order from overseas as soon as it became available.  It's probably one of my most anticipated reads of 2016.  Kirsty Eagar is an Australian writer, who's books I wish were more readily available to US readers.  Her stories are not impossible to get though.  If you have some patience, trust me when I say this, they are so worth the wait -- and Summer Skin is worth every single penny, every single minute, and so much more.

What I loved so much about this story is Jess's unashamed ambition.  She's a strong girl, with a good head on her shoulders, who begins this story wanting to seek revenge for a friend who's been mistreated.  What she does is both bold, and daring, and possibly a bit questionable.  My first reaction was, !!! (insert words I cannot say without revealing too much).  The boy who ends up being the target for her revenge has an air about him, both mysterious yet cocky.  I knew there was a deeper story to his being, and I was determined to figure it out.

It's a slow build between Jess and Mitch, who circle each other for quite a bit, claws out and ready to strike.  But every once in awhile the world falls away and we see a softer side to their harsh edges, something so much deeper and richer, waiting to be extracted.  As the story progresses, so does Jess's lingering questions.  What she thought she knew of herself and who she stood for begins to shift, shining a new light on someone she's not so certain about, but definitely curious to explore.

This story is meant for mature readers, and I highly recommend it to those who seek strong female leads that are not afraid to be who they are.  Not only was this novel my most anticipated read of 2016, it's quite possible my most favorite read of the year, too.  Summer Skin is every bit delicious, empowering, and irresistible.  As soon as that last page turns, I end up wanting more and more from Kirsty Eagar, like always.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish People to Follow on Instagram

I love a good Instagram account that focuses on books.  My list today could have gone way beyond just ten, but the following are ones I tend to "like" almost daily.  Whether they are recommending new reads to me, or having me lust after a bookish scene, their photos are always one to capture my eye.  If you're not already following them, then I hope you are now.

1. @whatgeorgiedid - Georgie is from the UK, a photographer, and such a sweetheart.  Her IG photos are gorgeous!  I am always lusting after her snapshots.

2. @jaimearkin - Jaime and I tend to read a lot of the same things.  I know I can always count on her for a book recommendation, and that's why I love checking in with her latest IG photo to see what she's been reading.

3. @mostlyyalit - Tiff is another go-to on my book recommendations list.  When I see her lusting after a particular book that's been captured in a photo, I know it's soon to be on my TBR list too.

4. @eviebookish - If you aren't familiar with Evie's creations, I hope you are now.  She not only takes gorgeous photos, but she also creates and sells bookish gifts.  Be sure to check out her shop!

5. @sweptawaybybooks - Alyssa is another blogger/photographer whose photos I lust after.  She does an exquisite job of capturing the essence of reading (+ we like to gush over the same reads!).

6. @bookbaristas - This is an account I like to stalk from afar. Though I don't know her, I enjoy looking at her IG photos.  They are always so beautiful and charming.

7. @novellyyours - This IG account belongs to Brittany (The Book Addict's Guide), who creates and sells amazing bookish candles.  Love the book/candle scene she creates for each photo.

8. @lisa_lostinlit - This is another bookish scene IG account that I adore gazing at.  Lisa does a fantastic job of incorporating books with colors, themes, and other darling details.

9. @hafsahfaizal - Hafsah is such a talented young lady! Her creations at Icey Designs are gorgeous and I love perusing her IG photos.

10. @perpertualpageturner - Jamie is one of my dearest friends, and I love to see what she's currently reading, perhaps what's showed up on her doorstep recently, or even an adorable pic of her pup Finn.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

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