Before the Blog: Left Drowning by Jessica Park

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Before the Blog is a weekly blog meme hosted by Karis Jacobstein over @ YA Litwit. It’s an opportunity to showcase books a blogger read and loved prior to starting their blog .  I love this idea because there are so many amazing books I haven’t reviewed on A Novel Glimpse because I read them a long time ago. The only rules to this meme are to answer the following questions about the book chosen to review:

  • Why did you choose this book? 
  • When did you read this book? 
  • Who would you recommend this book to? 

Left Drowning by Jessica Park

Publication Date: July 16, 2013

Publisher: Skyscape

Goodreads Synopsis:

Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.

*This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and sexual content.
Note: due to mature content recommended for Ages 17+


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Why did you choose this book? 

Because I loved it. It’s that simple, really.

Left Drowning was one of the first NA books I ever read. I was shocked at the amount of emotion it had me feeling. After reading it, I wanted to find more books like it. It’s still one of my favorite books. I was so happy when Jessica Park released the sequel, Restless Waters this fall. (Find my review here.)

When did you read this book? 

October of 2013

Who would you recommend this book to?

Readers who like emotionally packed books filled with damaged characters trying to heal. Also, readers who enjoy books by Colleen Hoover, Ginger Scott and Amy Harmon.

WWW Wednesday: October 21, 2015

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading but is now hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So here we go…


Currently reading:

I’m reading How to Be Brave by E. Katherin Kottaras right now. I was super excited a copy from Goodreads. I’m hoping to have a review up for it Friday.


Recently finished:

 

Recently, I finished Outspoken by Lora Richardson and Firebird by Jennifer Loring. Both books were really good and I would recommend them. Outspoken is a YA romance, while Firebird is an adult contemporary romance. You can find links to my reviews below.

Outspoken

Firebird


Reading Next:

I’ve been waiting for read Wicked Restless (Harper Boys #2) by Ginger Scott since the moment I heard it was coming out. I loved Wild Reckless and I’m so happy Ginger Scott decided to give us more from the Harper boys. I’m going to be reading this as soon as I finish How to Be Brave.


What are you currently reading? What’s next on your list?

Always Been You

Always Been You (Unforgettable You #3) by Beverly Kendall

Publication Date: October 15, 2015

Publisher: Season Publishing LLC

Synopsis:

Troy and April have been best friends since they were in kindergarten. They have always done everything together. They even chose to go to the same college. People always assume they’re “friends with benefits,” but their relationship has always been strictly platonic.

Until it isn’t.

When Troy chalks up their amazing night together to a drunken mistake, April is devastated. She’s had a secret crush on Troy since she was sixteen. So April puts all her efforts into getting over Troy.

Just when April thinks she ready to move on, Troy suddenly wants more. It should be April’s dream come true. But as soon as Troy reveals his feelings, his world comes crashing down and takes April’s with it.

Now, April’s stuck making a decision she really doesn’t want to have to make. Can she stomach posing nude for Playboy in order to help out her family? And if she does, will it ruin her relationship with Troy?


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


I stumbled onto Beverley Kendall’s NA novella The Trap  (Trapped #0.5) back when it came out in 2014. I was instantly addicted to the story and characters Beverley Kendall created. Once I was done reading it, I couldn’t wait for the next book to come out. From there, I went on to finish that series and pick up the related Unforgettable You series. I have loved each book in this series and have been (im)patiently waiting for the release of Always Been You. It was definitely worth the wait!

Always Been You is one of my favorite kinds of romances: best friends to lovers. There’s just something so sweet about two best friends falling for each other. I mean, what relationship could be more perfect?

I loved the main characters in this story. April was the model that could have had anyone, but was so insecure when it came to Troy. She would rather ignore her own feelings than lose him as a friend. Troy was in total denial about his feelings. Yeah, his best friend was hot. No, he didn’t like any of her boyfriends, but they just weren’t good enough for her. He wasn’t into her at all. Right…

Not only did I love the characters but their story! April and Troy were so much fun and hot together! Even when they weren’t “together”, the chemistry they had impacted every scene. I couldn’t put the book down. I was sad when it was over — once again I’m stuck waiting for the next book in the series. (I’m hoping the wait won’t be so long this time!)

If you’re looking for a fun friends to lovers NA read, I would highly suggest this one. There are some characters from previous books in this series, but I think it could be read as a standalone. I would also recommend other books in this series and the Trapped series. The Trap is FREE on Amazon and Only for You is $0.99! So, it’s the perfect time to try out both series!

Other books in this series:

 

Related series:

 

Firebird

Firebird by Jennifer Loring

Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Publisher:  Limitless Publishing, LLC

Synopsis:

Stephanie Hartwell is a journalist with something to prove. She knows her way into writing higher profile sports stories is to interview hockey superstar Aleksandr Volynsky.

Bad boy Aleksandr Volynsky is known to be a tough interview. He hates the media and has no problem giving reporters a hard time. But Stephanie has an in with Aleksandr. He’s the boy she once thought she’s marry. If anyone can get Aleksandr to open up, it’s Stephanie.

Aleksandr Volynsky does not give interviews, but he’s being forced into this one. He doesn’t know whether to be pleased Stephanie Hartwell will be interviewing him or mad. He’s wanted nothing more than to see her again, but eight years of silence has done nothing but heighten the rage he feels toward her. It doesn’t help that she’s engaged to another man. She was always supposed to be Aleksandr’s.

Even with all Aleksandr’s rage being aimed at Stephanie, she can’t help feel the chemistry between the two of them. She’s trying to keep things professional, but she’s having a harder and harder time fighting her feelings for him. Stephanie’s supposed to be happily engaged and writing the story of her life. Instead, she’s questioning every decision she’s ever made.

After Aleksandr and Stephanie decide to take things to the next level, their worlds come crashing down on them. Do they have what it takes to come out on top of it all — together?


My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Okay, so I’m going to get the one negative thing I have to say about Firebird out of the way so that I can sing it’s praises like I really want to do. There is cheating and a lot of womanizing in this book. (If those two things bother you, this book is not for you.) It was disturbing to read about the two main characters having sex with other people — especially when they’re thinking about each other. Ewww. BUT I know this stuff happens in real life, so it won’t make or a break a book for me. Now, on to the fun part!

Besides the cheating part, Firebird was an incredibly good romance. It was fast-paced and action packed. I couldn’t put it down. Something new was always happening and the story was constantly building. I was surprised at the twists and turns that took place. Just when I thought the story might be coming to an end, something else would happen to take the story in a new direction.

I absolutely loved Aleksandr. To be honest, most of the time he was a big fat jerk. But I kind of loved that about him. He didn’t hold back and once I knew why, I appreciated it even more. I don’t want to give too much away, but I felt that his story was an important one. I loved the way his character developed over the entire book.

Stephanie, on the other hand, drove me nuts at times. One minute, she was a smart and tough chick. The next, she made horrible decisions. I liked her, but at times she made it hard to.

Together, Stephanie and Aleksandr were scorching HOT. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other! There was a sweetness between the two of them that I loved — especially from Aleksandr. He was so crude, but he had a secret soft spot when it came to Stephanie. It made me smile a lot.

As for the hockey, I liked that Jennifer Loring included some actual hockey plays and not just the players. It added another great dimension to the story. I don’t know much about hockey, but it seemed realistic enough to me.

I would highly recommend Firebird to adult contemporary romance readers that love sports related romances.

**I received an electronic copy of Firebird in exchange for an honest review.

Siblinghood of the World Bloggers Award #2

I have to admit I’ve done this one before. I think I’ve been nominated a few times since then. I decided to go ahead and do it again because I love answering questions other bloggers ask and it’s such a pleasure to be nominated by other community members.

I would like to thank Beatrice @ When Curiosity Killed the Cat, nominating me for the Sisterhood  Siblinghood of the World Bloggers Award. If anyone else nominated me and I didn’t complete the nomination, I’m sorry! If you let me know, I’d happy to add your name/link. If I get a chance, I’ll even go back to your original post and answer your questions! (Can you tell I feel guilty?)


The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
  • Put the Award logo on your blog.
  • Answer the ten questions sent to you.
  • Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Nominate ten blogs.

Beatrice’s Questions:

Aside from reading books, what are your favorite pastimes?

You mean there’s other things you can do besides read books? *Gasp*

My favorite past times besides reading books are scrapbooking, camping, boating, hanging out with friends and spending time with my family. I’m also planning on taking up sewing soon.

A book turned into a movie or turned into a series?

Hmmm…It depends. If Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter wanted to turn some of my favorite books into a TV series, I would totally be okay with that. Otherwise, probably a movie. I think there’s more time to ruin a good book in a TV series than in a movie.

Which do you prefer, Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop?

Both? Neither? Maybe I need to actually check those things out!

What phobia do you have?

My biggest fear is death because, well, death. It could be my death or death of a family member. Second, would be physical pain. I hate getting hurt. Third, would be spiders and snakes. Ewww.

If you were given a chance to meet a book character in person, who would it be?

Kate from Kim Holden’s Brightside.

What country are you from?

The United States of America

What is your favorite music genre?

Pop. (That really that just means popular music, right?) I tend to like a little bit of everything, but I mainly listen to Pop. I love music from the 70’s to the present. If I had to pick a favorite decade it would probably be the 80’s.

If you were given a chance to learn other languages, what would they be?

It’s been a while, but I took Spanish in high school and college. I could read and write but couldn’t speak it very well. I would love to relearn it. It would also be nice to learn Japanese, Chinese, French or German. I would be open to learning pretty much anything.

What is your favorite food?

Picking just one is so hard! I am going with Peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Odd, I know, but it was my first favorite food ever and you really can’t go wrong with one.

Who is your favorite author?

I think you’re trying to kill me with this question. Who has just one favorite author!?!? I can’t choose! Here’s a list of some of my favorites right now: Colleen Hoover, Ginger Scott, Kim Holden, Karen White, Kristan Higgins, Beth Flynn, and many, many more.


My Questions:

  • If you could get a sequel to any standalone novel, which one would it be?
  • Gummy bears or gummy worms?
  • What is the saddest book you ever read?
  • Favorite TV show?
  • What is the most inspiring book you ever read?
  • Song you’re listening to on repeat this week?
  • If you could hang out with one author for the day, who would it be?
  • *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys or New Kids on the Block?
  • Do you believe Big Foot really exists?
  • If you could recommend one book to me, what would it be?

I Nominate:

This time I’m going to nominate some bloggers I’ve recently discovered. If you’ve already done it, I won’t be upset if you don’t do it again. 😉

Alex @ Alextheshadowgirl’s Blog

Aneta @ Aneta Quinn

Courtney @ Abibliophobic Tendencies 

Hayley @ Rather Too Fond of Books

Jenna @ Reading with Jenna

Lucía @ Making Days Better

Maren @ The Worn Bookmark

Rachael @ bookspieandcoffee

Raven @ Dreamy Addictions

Stephanie @ Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Wishes I’d Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is 10 Wishes I’d Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me. 


Ten Wishes I’d Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me:

1. Kim Holden would write a third book in the Bright Side series called Keller. It would be about (gasp!) Keller and would pick up after Bright Side and would span the time from the end of that book, through the time in Gus and then into the future.

2. The third book in the Nine Minutes series by Beth Flynn would come out tomorrow and I would have all day to sit and read it undisturbed.

3. Colleen Hoover would write a prequel to Ugly Love about Miles and Rachel. Or she could write a sequel to it. I’m not picky. Just more Ugly Love, please. Or a spin-off with Tate’s brother! I’d take that, too.

4. I could forever download any book onto my Kindle for FREE.

5. All of my friends would become readers. They would all then read every book I told them to.

sons of anarchy photo: Sons of anarchy sons-of-anarchy-poster-image.jpg 6. Beth Flynn’s Nine Minutes series would become a T.V. show done by Kurt Sutter. It could be the new spin off to Sons of Anarchy.

7. I would make money simply by reading books. (I know, we all want this!)

8. I would be friends with all my favorite authors. (There are too many to list!) They would let me read the ARCs of all of their books.

9. Kasie West would write a book for each brother in On the Fence.

10. I would no longer get sore hands/arms/backs from holding a book/Kindle or turning pages.


I don’t think any of those are too much to ask, do you? What wishes would you ask for?

Outspoken

Outspoken by Lora Richardson

Publication Date: Agust 18, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace

Synopsis:

One thing Penny has never been in life is outspoken. She’s always gone with the flow and done what everyone wanted her to do. Others’ opinions have always mattered more than her own. But that’s going to change.

Penny’s going to spend her summer before (maybe) going to college at the beach in South Carolina. She’s going to leave her seven siblings and Montana hometown behind. She’s using checking up on her elderly grandfather as her excuse, but in reality Penny wants to break away from the person she was before. For once in her life, she’s going to be the person she wants to be. Penny’s going to be outspoken.

Just as Penny’s starting to gain her independence, she meets Archer. Everyone tells her to avoid him, but Penny feels drawn to him. While Penny’s trying to be her own person, she can’t help but worry about Archer’s opinion. Will her worrying about what Archer thinks be the end to her new life? Will she continue to be outspoken or will she revert to the girl who simply goes with the flow?


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Outspoken is a coming of age tale. It’s set in that time in life when a young adult is trying to find themselves and their voice. Penny’s no longer a child, but she’s not sure how to be an adult and stand up for herself yet.

Outspoken is one of those books that is harder for me to review. While I loved the story and writing, I disliked the main character Penny. She rubbed me the wrong way. I know she was trying to be truthful, but her delivery was lacking finesse. Everything that came out of her mouth was so negative. I know she was striving to speak her mind, but if she was a new friend of mine, our friendship wouldn’t last long. She never seemed like she even wanted to hang out with her new friends, Gwen and Marissa. She needed to learn giving in to spend time with her friends didn’t always equate to giving up a piece of herself. But that’s part of what this story was about, so I feel bad complaining! Penny was just trying to find her voice.

Despite my dislike for Penny, I did enjoy the storyline. I liked how she set out on her own to discover herself. What she was going through was very relatable. And Penny did have her redeeming moments. I could see a glimpse of the sweet person she was when she went above and beyond to help the people she met through her job at the grocery store. I also loved the way she wanted to take care of her grandfather, Cal. My favorite Penny was the person she was when she was with Archer. She seemed to find a happy medium when she was with him. She wasn’t quite as negative but she also didn’t lose herself in him. I wanted to read more of this Penny.

What I enjoyed most about Outspoken was the cast of supporting characters. I loved them all! Gwen and Marissa were a ton of fun. Archer was the silent, brooding “bad boy” with a lot of depth. All of Penny’s grocery delivery customers were interesting and added a ton of dimension to the story. Penny’s family seemed really fun, too. I would have liked to read more about them and their relationships with each other. I have a feeling they would have been a hilarious bunch.

So while I didn’t always enjoy Penny, I did always enjoy the story. I thought it was a great YA coming of age story about a girl on the path to adulthood trying to find herself. I think this book would be highly beneficial for young adults going through that time in their lives to read.

**I received an electronic copy of Outspoken from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Heartbreakers

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak

Publication Date: August 4, 2015

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Synopsis:

Stella isn’t into mainstream music. She couldn’t care less about a silly boy band called the Heartbreakers. But Stella’s sister Cara loves them. Since Cara’s sick and can’t go to their concert, Stella is determined to get the Heartbreakers’ autographs for her.

On her way to the autograph signing in Chicago, Stella stops at Starbucks for an early morning coffee. The only other person in the coffee shop is a cute guy. Stella is shocked when she shows up at the autograph signing and the cute coffee shop guy is none other than the Heartbreakers’ lead singer.

Stella’s shock doesn’t end there, though. Cute coffee guy / lead singer Oliver gives her his number and asks her to call. Stella can’t believe her is actually interested in her.

As Stella and Oliver start to fall for each other, things become complicated. Cara’s illness becomes worse and Stella feels guilty for not being around more when her sister might be dying. Meanwhile, Oliver and the band are dealing with breakup rumors. Will the pressure of it all ruin the first bit of happiness Stella’s felt in a long time?


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


A while ago, I read and reviewed My Life with the Walter Boys. I was really impressed with the story. I loved how Ali Novak took a character that had just gone through something heartbreaking and instead of letting her wallow in it, added warmth and humor to help her heal.

When I picked up The Heartbreakers, I was hoping to get the same type of story. I had recently finished a couple of books that, while they were brilliant, left me feeling down. It wasn’t exactly a book hangover, it was just that I needed something that was going to pep me up. Luckily, The Heartbreakers was exactly what I needed. I loved it! It was an upbeat, funny and fast-paced read.

Stella may have been dealing with her sister’s illness, but Cara’s cancer didn’t steal the show. Her positive attitude toward life and her illness helped Stella live her life to the fullest. And that meant following her heart when a certain boy band member pops up.

I have to admit The Heartbreakers were my favorite part of the story. Each one of those guys made me smile. Ali Novak sure knows how to write hilarious teenage boys. I’m so excited that this book has The Heartbreaker Chronicles #1 after it because I would love to read a book about any of these guys!

If you’re looking for a YA to make you smile, you’ve found it!

.

The Nightingale

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Publication Date: February 3, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Synopsis:

It’s 1939 and war is raging in Europe. France has been preparing for war, trying to keep Hitler’s army out of its boarders. In the village of Carriveau, the Mauriac sisters are driven apart by their views on the war.

Vianne, the elder of the two, does not believe war will come to France. Even has her husband is sent off to war, Vianne chooses to believe life will go on as it has been. But when the Nazis invade her village, Vianne can no longer deny it. War has come to France. She must do everything in her power to keep herself and her daughter alive.

Vianne’s younger sister, Isabelle, does not agree with Vianne’s stance. Eighteen-year-old Isabelle would rather meet the war head on than mearly try to survive. She joins the Resistance and spends her time trying to save others.

As the war rages on, Vianne and Isabelle will make choices that tear them apart and pull them back together.


My rating: 5 out 5 stars


To be honest, I avoided reading The Nightingale. I wanted to read it, but I didn’t want to read it. I love Kristin Hannah’s books, but I heard it was a little slow and a lot sad. I checked it out twice from the library. The first time, I had to return the hardback before I had a chance to read it. Really, I just wasn’t in the mood. The second time, I checked out an electronic copy. I only read 18  pages before it magically returned itself. Then, my friend let me borrow her copy. It sat on my counter for two weeks before I picked it up. I’m really sad I waited so long to read it. It was really, really good.

I feel like no matter what I write about The Nightingale, it won’t adequately reflect my feelings about this book. It was heart breaking. It was beautiful. It was captivating. I couldn’t put it down.

I can tell The Nightingale is going to be a book that sticks with me long after I have finished reading it. Kristin Hannah did a wonderful job weaving the French history of World War II into her story. The Nightingale may have been fiction, but I could easily imagine it being real. It’s a devastating thought because the history of World War II is so devastating. It happened and a lot of people died. There’s no avoiding the truth of it all.

The Nightingale is a book I would recommend to readers who enjoyed Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. I would also recommend it to those reader who like historical fiction or just a really amazing book.

ARC Review: Shatterproof

shatterproof cover Shatterproof by K.K. Weil

Publication Date: October 28, 2015

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc

Synopsis:

Sculptor Griffin Stone may look just like his father, but that’s where the similarities will end — if he has anything to say about it.

Griffin’s watched his mother live with his father’s physical abuse for years. He knows what the statistics say. He’s more likely to become an abuser since his father’s one. So, Griffin’s going to avoid a relationship at all costs. He’s not willing to put a woman he loves at risk.

That’s why when Griffin meets aspiring photographer, Frankie Moore, he knows he should walk away. There’s something about Frankie that draws him to her, something he’s afraid may wake the beast inside him.

Aspiring photographer Frankie Moore knows she’s more impulsive than she should be. She makes decisions without weighing the consequences. Things don’t always turn out the way she hopes, but she can always see the positive in situations and people.

Frankie sees the positive in Griffin Stone from the moment she meets him. She just needs to help Griffin to see it, too.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


I love when books grab my attention from the very first sentence or paragraph. It’s amazing when just those few words have me wondering what will happen before I get to the words “The End.” Shatterproof was one of the rare books that did just that.

Shatterproof started out strong and never once faltered. From the beginning, I loved Griffin but feared for him. Would he become an abuser? Would he be able to handle a relationship with Frankie? Could he come to terms with his childhood? What would be the straw that broke the camel’s back? He seemed to be moments from combustion at all times.

And then there was Frankie. She may have judged herself to be a flake, but I only saw a sweet young woman who wanted to see the best in everything and everyone. She certainly only the saw the best in Griffin. I kept wondering what she was really getting herself into. I hoped it was a good thing, but I was scared for her, too! I didn’t know what K.K. Weil had in store for readers. Was she giving us a happily ever after or a cautionary tale?

It was all so intense!!! I was on edge the entire time wondering how things were going to end for Griffin and Frankie. They were both so broken in their own ways. I wanted them to become whole together.

I’m not going to tell you how it all plays out because I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone. I’m just going to say that I think K.K. Weil did an amazing job portraying a young man trying to break the cycle of abuse. The story felt raw and real. I would highly suggest Shatterproof to readers looking for an intense NA contemporary romance with real life issues.

**I was provided an ARC of Shatterproof by the author in exchange for an honest review.