Monday, March 23, 2015

Review; Every Breath

Every Breath
Author: Ellie Marney
Published: October 14th, 2014
Hardcover, 352 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft's numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft's passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn't right - and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder.

While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he's busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion's den - literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again. 

I'm a big Sherlock Holmes fan and James Mycroft has taken Holmes to a whole new level. He's young, sexy, and just eccentric enough to make you want to change him. Rachel Watts is the perfect Watson, eager to please and help Mycroft in anyway possible. Having him next door is both wonderful and time-consuming and Watts spends most of her time watching him experiment with forensics and try to solve cases. The biggest case yet is something they stumble on during their usual trip to the Melbourne Zoo to hang out with Homeless Dave, only he's been murdered and it's left up to them to solve it, the police figuring it's just a random homeless death. With Mycroft's forensics skills and Watts's way with people, the two of them get to the nitty gritty bottom of it all.

I loved Mycroft. I mean, who wouldn't? He was a little random, a little unorganized, and just the right amount of crazy to want to be near him. His smarts certainly got him in trouble but they also outsmarted the police in every situation. Watts was lovely and I loved the subtle moments where she noticed things about Mycroft she tried not too, like the way he looked without a shirt on and it made me crave the moment when things would change between the two of them. I'm a big fan of romance (as I'm sure we've all discovered by now) and the moment of the first kiss is my favourite part to experience in a book. All I'll say was that I was not disappointed in this one.

The mystery behind Homeless Dave's death was well done. I certainly didn't see the ending coming and I was surprised and pleased with how it all played out. The players involved each had their own reasons that may have made them the killer, but Marney weaved such an interlocking web there was no telling who actually murdered the victim. I was so engrossed with this book that I didn't put it down and read it in one sitting. The writing is fluid and I revelled in the Australian lingo that spun throughout. I reckon I'll enjoy the second book, Every Word, even more.

"If you looked inside his brain at this moment you'd see all the little synapses, Catherine wheels and penny bangers and skyrockets, all firing off into space in some sparkling display of gathering momentum. I don't want to look into his brain. Looking into his eyes is bad enough."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review: I'll Meet You There

I'll Meet You There
Author: Heather Demetrios
Published: February 3rd, 2015
Hardcover, 400 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom - that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she's ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell has a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise - a quirky motel off California's dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

Small town America always has the best stories to tell. Those who are bound to be stuck in them forever with babies and a crappy job, and those who actually found a way out and will do anything to make it happen. Skylar and Josh both found their outs, but fate had other plans for them. Skylar has a full scholarship to an art school in San Francisco, her collages one of the few things she loves, but her mom losing her job and spending time with a creep makes Sky rethink her plans. Josh joined the Marines to get out, but a bomb in Afghanistan sent him home long before he wanted to and without a leg. Now the two of them must survive the summer before they can even think of what will come next. Their days are spent at the Paradise, Skylar collaging and Josh cleaning and fixing things up. The more time they spend together, the closer they get to each other. Sky learns that not everyone in Creek View is the same and Josh is a different guy than she once thought. Josh learns to live the regrets he's made and the people he's lost and trying to find a way to keep going.

This book sent me through the emotions. Skylar was sweet and sarcastic, but was also going through crazy emotional drama that would make me want to cry. Josh was in even deeper. His mind was messed up from the war and his segments worth of chapters brought me to tears each time while hoping that he'd turn out okay. I loved how Heather played up his short chapters. They were mostly letters, usually about a page long, where he would talk about Skylar to an unknown person. They were about him coming to terms with his new life without a leg, without the Marines, and the chance that he may have to stay in Creek View forever. Heather captured Marine life nicely (from what I can gather). The brotherhood and feeling of family in an unknown country with your lives at stake. There were perfect moments in the story that crushed my soul, knowing that men and women are putting their lives on the line every day.

The romance flowed smoothly through the book. There was no insta-love, in fact Skylar tried to stay away from Josh because she knew love would get her stuck there. Their connection spoke to me, two lost souls finding light in the darkness. The closer they got together, the happier I was and when everything I could ever hope for happened, I was ecstatic. This book wove a story of two people needing an escape and instead finding each other between the walls of a rundown motel. Whenever Josh asked how the sky was, I'd smile, and when Sky finally broke the barrier he kept around himself, I wanted to read it over and over again. This book was spectacular and I'd read it again in a heartbeat and recommend it to everyone I know.

"'If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?' I opened my mouth to say San Francisco or maybe Madrid - somewhere exotic. But what came out was, 'Here. Right here.'"

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where we discuss bookish topics in the form of lists (which always make me happy!)

This week's topic is: Books on my Spring TBR List

1. The Fill In Boyfriend by Kasie West (May 5th) Kasie West, why yes I will continue to read everything you write and this one sounds amazing!  

2. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre (April 7th) One of my favourite new authors, can't wait to read a YA from her.

3. All the Rage by Courtney Summers (April 14th) Courtney is genius and her books hit all the best points that YA should. This one will be intense but I'm ready.

4. Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt ( April 19th) This sounds so different than Tiffany's other books that I can't help but be excited for what she has in store for me. 

5. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver (March 10th) Just bought this one last week, definitely will be reading it soon. Lauren blows me away every time.

6. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord (March 31st) Open Road Summer was the best thing I read last summer, here's hoping this is the best thing I read this spring.

7. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (May 26th) More Jenny Han! Yes please, can't wait for more letters.

8. We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach (March 24th) This one just sounds so cool. I'm all for what you would do your last night on Earth.

9. Kissing in America by Margo Rabb (May 26th) Romance novels and trying to stay in reality? Sign me up.

10. Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton (May 26th) Ballet and danger and such a beautiful cover. This one's got my name written all over it.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Review: I Was Here

I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Published: January 27th, 2015
Hardcover, 288 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until... they weren't anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything - so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg's college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there's a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg's heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can't open - until she does, and sudden;y everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend's death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss. 

I've read all of Gayle's books and this one by far has taken to the top of my favourites list. Her characters are always going through a difficult time, and she captures every emotion possible and can make me fall in love, hate the world, and break down crying in one paragraph. I Was Here is essentially a story about moving on without a very big part of your life, but so much more than that. Cody experiences first love, first loss and the real meaning of friendship and family. Cody has just lost her best friend Meg, someone she has grown up with but has recently lost touch with since Meg went off to school. Her suicide catches everyone off guard, and Cody travels to Meg's college to clear out her things. It should be simple, a quick weekend if anything, but Cody finds more than she anticipated in those walls that hold all of Meg's secrets. She learns more about Meg when she's gone than she ever knew when she was alive. The closer Cody gets to finding out why Meg killed herself, the more she realizes she lost who she and Meg were together.

Cody is a hard character to love at first. She lost touch with Meg once she moved to college and ditched her the weekend she was supposed to go visit. She doesn't want to go to see Meg's parents and tries to hide from everything that's happening. I totally understand that everyone grieves differently. but I'm glad that I loved Cody eventually as she is a strong character with a lot of depth. The secondary characters were the best part. Meg's roommates were all so unique and jumped off the pages and Ben was the kind of bad boy anyone would fall for, but of course he wasn't as much a bad boy as Cody thought he was. The two of them were perfection together and I was eager for their relationship to take the turns that they did. Together, the grieved the loss of their friend and worked together to uncover what made Meg do something like that.

There's a sense of mystery with the encrypted files on Meg's computer and the conversations that were had with Ben through email. The story progressed fluidly, keeping me reading. Ultimately, this is a book about surviving the loss of a best friend and watching Cody grow to accept that the fact that her friend is gone was heart breaking and wonderful at the same time. She learned so much about herself along the way and was able to accomplish things she never would have done. She was stuck in a small town going nowhere and by getting on that train and going to Meg's school, she opened up a whole new world to herself. This book has stayed with me long after closing the book and I constantly wonder what's to come of these characters. Gayle has done it again and I can't wait for more from her.

"I failed her in life. I won't fail her in death."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Review: The Chapel Wars

The Chapel Wars
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Published: May 6th, 2014
Hardcover, 304 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she'd rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is Holly running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money - fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly's chapel represents everything she's ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save. 

The concept of this book really did it for me. It sounded fun and kitschy, and it was all that and more. This book had heart, laughter and the kind of family love we all hope for. When Holly's grandfather leaves her his wedding chapel, she's not sure what to do. She's too young to be managing a chapel, a whole life ahead of her that is suddenly changed. She soon finds out that the chapel is losing money and if they can't make it soon, they will have to shut down. The other part that doesn't make sense to her is that her grandfather wants her to give a letter to the grandson of his notorious enemy, the owner of the chapel next door. It's everything Holly's grandpa hated and yet when she walks in, knowing she will hate it in there, she finds Dax, the grandson, and can't help her attraction to him. Sounds like a typical Romeo and Juliet story, but this is more of a family story, a story about grief, acceptance, and learning to love what you've got. Plus, yes, some really cute romance.

Leavitt sold me after reading her first novel, Going Vintage. I knew she had a unique style, funny characters and great story lines. This one is just as unique, giving me a glimpse into a world I know nothing about. Wedding chapels in Vegas to me scream cheese (kind of like Dax's grandpa's) but Holly's grandpa knew how to make getting married in Vegas romantic and even I would get married at his chapel. Holly's love for her grandpa is wonderful and flew off the pages with every word. Even though her grandpa is already dead at the beginning of the book, he is just as much a character as Holly or Dax or her parents or brother. I fell in love with this world and struggled along with Holly as she tried to raise money to keep the chapel open. Holly makes some mistakes and she learns the hard way for a lot of things, and she certainly isn't perfect and her relationship with Dax takes many turns for the worse, but to me that made her real and I loved every one of her imperfections.

Her and Dax were adorable. Though they had their issues, the two of them went together perfectly. Their moments together were sweet, like hanging out in Dax's chapel in the Twilight room. And Dax is with her every step of the way as she raises money to save the chapel. The drama is just dramatic enough and the resolution put a smile on my face and left me loving the book. The chapel became something so much more to Holly and through her grieving process, she learned more about herself and her grandpa that she ever could have thought. This was a great story about loss and love, of forgiving and moving on. A very good coming-of-age story for anyone who likes the glittering lights of Las Vegas.

"I guess its hard to be the villain without a hero."

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