The Impossible Knife of Memory

The Impossible Knife of MemoryThe Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Publication Date: January 2, 2014

Publisher: Viking Children’s

Synopsis:

Hayley Kincain is spending her senior year of high school in high school. For most kids that would be normal. For Hayley, it’s a tough transition from being homeschooled on the road with her Iraq war veteran father.

Hayley’s trying to lead a normal life. She has a new best friend in Grace and a possible boyfriend in Finn. If only her father’s transition was as easy. Riddled with PTSD, he can barely keep it together. Hayley’s doing everything she can to keep him safe, but she’s worried it might not be enough.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Impossible Knife of Memory left me feeling kind of…blah. I had such high expectations for it. It just didn’t meet most of them. I can’t decide whether I liked it or not. There were some really great things about it, but there were also things I didn’t like or get.

The writing was amazing. It flowed well and kept me reading when I might have wanted to set the book down. I read it in two days.

I liked the PTSD topic and how Hayley’s dad was portrayed. Even though he wasn’t very likeable, he felt real and I couldn’t help but feel compassion for him and anyone else dealing with returning from war.

I couldn’t stand Hayley most of the time. Her denial of her dad’s condition was understandable, as was her warped sense of the past. Her habit of referring to her classmates as zombies drove me nuts. I just didn’t get it. The only time I really felt like I could connect with her character was toward the end of the book.

I also couldn’t stand Hayley’s dad’s flashbacks. I don’t know why we were treated to them, but they didn’t add anything to the story for me. At least the memories Hayley had were able to show how she was twisting her own truth.

So while I loved the writing and the issue the story was tackling, there were just too many things I didn’t like. I will be trying another of Laurie Hulse Anderson’s stories in the future since she’s obviously a talented author.

Five Flavors of Dumb

Five Flavors of DumbFive Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Publication Date: November 11, 2010

Publisher: Speak

Synopsis:

North Seattle High School senior Piper is known for being smart. What she isn’t known for being is popular. So when she’s presented with the challenge to get her high schools popular band a paying gig, she accepts. There’s only one problem: Piper’s deaf. Can she manage a band without actually being able to hear them? No one but Piper seems to think so. She’ll just have to prove them wrong.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I’ve read a few books with deaf characters and Five Flavors of Dumb is definitely one of my favorites. I loved how the author portrayed Piper. She felt real to me. She was strong and witty, but definitely had her teenage issues.

Piper’s family dynamic was amazing. The problems she was having with her parents were so tough and I couldn’t help but empathize with both sides. I loved her relationship with her brother, Finn. He was one of my favorite characters in the book.

The band characters were a lot of fun. I liked how each of them had their own issues and that I got to really get to know them. I especially loved Ed.

Being from the greater Seattle-Tacoma area, the musical journey through Seattle’s famous musicians was extremely cool. I loved how The Showbox and a daily talk show (think New Day) were incorporated into the story.

Five Flavors of Dumb is a book I would highly recommend to readers looking for a great YA rock star novel with a lot of heart. There’s no sex, drugs or violence. There is school skipping, forgery and going against parents’ wishes.

Saving Toby

perf6.000x9.000.inddSaving Toby by Suzanne McKenna Link

Publication Date: August 26, 2013

Synopsis:

Everyone in town knows the Faye boys are bad news, but Claudia can only remember Toby Faye as a nice kid. So when Claudia receives a job offer that will have her working with Toby and his mother, Julia, she accepts it.

Claudia never thought working near Toby would be such a measure in self-control. Toby’s made it obvious he wants her. Claudia can’t deny that she wants him, too. Just as they’re beginning to fall for each other, Toby is linked to a brutal hate crime. Claudia knows Toby couldn’t be involved, but her policeman father isn’t so sure.

As the police investigate, Claudia is be forced to choose sides and try to hold together a relationship that may have been doomed from the start.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I absolutely loved Saving Toby. It was fun, romantic, intense and fast-paced. The chemistry between Toby and Claudia was amazing.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with Toby’s cocky personality. The way he antagonized Claudia made me smile. It was just what her uptight personality needed. 

Despite her age, Claudia was very mature. I was surprised at how mature she was through the second half of the story. I don’t think many young adult women could handle things the way she did.

The hate crime part of the book was so intense! I could see what was going to happen and I was so worried for Toby! (I admit I may have had to take a little break from reading because it was stressing me out — but in a good way!)

Overall, Saving Toby was an amazing New Adult read. The writing was excellent and I was completely drawn into the story. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Keeping Claudia. I would highly recommend Saving Toby to fans of authors Colleen Hoover, Tammara Webber, and Jessica Park.

Thank you to Suzanne McKenna Link for the opportunity to read and honestly review Saving Toby.

ARC Review: Unshakable

Unshakable (Wayward Fighters, #4)Unshakableby J.C. Valentine 

Publication Date: July 28, 2015

Publisher:  Malachite Publishing LLC

*Unshakable is included in the Red Hot Candy Boxed Set and it’s out today!

Synopsis:

Don Freyer lost both his wife and his fighting career to cancer. He was a bitter old man until Jami came into his life. Jami’s the son Don never had. Don knows Jami’s life was rough growing up and he wants to ensure Jami and his wife can provide stability for the baby they are about to have. Don’s about to make that happen for them when life throws another hurdle his way.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Unshakable is the epilogue to the Wayward Fighters series. It’s a short story told in Don and Jami’s POV’s. In order to understand the characters, it’s best to have read the previous novels.

I love that J.C. Valentine gave us one last glimpse into the lives of the Wayward Fighters family. It was short and sweet and really wrapped up the entire series in a great way. Fans of the series will love it.

Thank you to J.C. Valentine for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of Unshakable. 

Other books in this series:

Knockout (Wayward Fighters, #1)  Tapout (Wayward Fighters, #2)  unDefeated (Wayward Fighters, #3)

Before the Blog #2: There is No Light in Darkness

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?

_________________________________________________________________

There is No Light in Darkness (Darkness, #1)There is No Light in Darkness by Claire Contreras

Publication Date: January 10, 2013

Publisher: Claire Contreras

Synopsis: 

Blake Brennan’s past is a mystery to her. She lost her parents violently as a young child and was sent to be raised by her loving aunt. When her aunt died, Blake was raised by a woman named Maggie along with Aubrey, Cole, Dean and Becky. They became her family.

Now that Blake’s an adult, the death of her parents continues to haunt her. Blake decides to search for the truth about their death. Doing so unleashes a series of events that bring the past and future together. Blake must decide which is more important to her: the truth or the lives of her family.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Why did you choose this book? 

Because I absolutely loved it. It has everything: a steamy romance, suspense, mystery, twists and turns, and amazing characters. It also has an AMAZING ending and a big cliffhanger! (But don’t worry because the second novel, Darkness Before Dawn, is already out.) I didn’t want to put it down. I was so hooked that I read it every chance I got.

When did you read this book?

I read it this past February after having read Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras. I liked that book so much that I decided to read more of her novels.

Who would you recommend this book to? 

Everyone!

 Read. This. Book. Seriously. Read it.

I think there are aspects of it almost any reader would like. Well, I should probably say mature readers. There is explicit language and sexual content.

Coming In From The Cold

Coming In From the Cold (Gravity Book 1)Coming In From The Cold (Gravity #1) by Sarina Bowen

Publication Date: March 13, 2015

Publisher: Rennie Roads Book

Synopsis:

Dane “Danger” Hollister is an Olympic ski racer trying to outrun an illness that cursed both his mother and brother. He lives each day as it was his last. It’s what makes him such a good racer. It’s also what makes him avoid relationships that last longer than a night.

Willow Reade has the worst luck ever. Thanks to her ex, she’s stuck in the Vermont countryside taking care of an old house and a bunch of chickens.

When a blizzard blows in and drives them both off the road, Dane and Willow spend and unforgettable night together. Both are rocked by the passion and the consequences their time together will have.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Coming In From The Cold was a really cute sports related love story. I liked that it was centered around a winter sport (skiing). Dane was the typical jock that doesn’t do relationships — except his reason isn’t the one you normally find in romance novels. Willow’s sweet and strong. Their chemistry was hot. It was a really fun read for my latest camping trip.

Contemporary romance readers that like a romance with hot athletes will enjoy Coming In From The Cold.

Kiss Me

Kiss Me (Fool's Gold, #17) Kiss Me (Fool’s Gold #17) by Susan Mallery

Publication Date: June 30, 2015

Publisher: HQN Books

Synopsis:

Phoebe Kitzke is a fixer. She fixes things for people. Clients, friends, boyfriends. They’ve all benefited from Phoebe’s kindness.

Phoebe’s latest gift of kindness is costing her big. Not only is she suspended from her real estate job, but she’s in jeopardy of losing it all together. So, Phoebe’s come to the decision that she’s not going to be a doormat anymore. No more favors. Well, except for one last one. She’s going to join her best friend, Maya, at her family ranch in Fool’s Gold. She’s been promised there will be plenty of hunky scenery.

Zane Nicholson is not happy that he’s stuck leading a cattle drive for some tourists, but he’s determined to teach his half-brother a lesson. The last thing stubborn Zane expects to happen on the cattle drive is to fall for sweet Phoebe. He knows he should fight his longings for her, but it’s pretty hard when just seeing her makes his day brighter.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Fool’s Gold novels are always fun to read. You can read them in order or as standalone novels. There are some overlapping characters in each book, but not enough to bother you if you haven’t read one of the previous novels. I actually started the series in the middle and then caught up with the beginning books later. There are so many and they have been written for years, so it’s easy to get them from the library. My library even had the majority of them in a digital format.

So, having read all of the previous seventeen Fool’s Gold novels and all its novellas, I was a little nervous about reading Kiss Me. It pains me to admit it, but Hold Me (Fool’s Gold #16) wasn’t one of my favorite Fool’s Gold novels. It just didn’t have enough of a love story for me. The background stories of the characters were amazing; I just wanted more of the love birds together. I was worried maybe the series was going to start to fizzle for me.

I was happy to find that was not the case. Kiss Me was a fun cowboy romance. I say cowboy because the majority of it is set on the cattle drive in Fool’s Gold. Phoebe was a hoot. I loved her relationship with the animals. She was a little too sweet for me at times, but grumpy Zane definitely rounded her out. The sexual tension between them was hot.

I also enjoyed all of the supporting characters’ stories. They were unique and added a lot to the entire cattle drive experience. I do wish there would have been more of the town of Fool’s Gold in it. It always makes for cool and interesting storylines.

I’m very happy Kiss Me brought back my love for the Fool’s Gold series. It’s a series I’d highly recommend to contemporary romance readers that like a series with an interesting setting and characters.

Other books and novellas in this series (in order):

Chasing Perfect (Fool's Gold, #1) Almost Perfect (Fool's Gold, #2) Sister of the Bride (Fool's Gold, #2.5)  Finding Perfect (Fool's Gold, #3)  Only Mine (Fool's Gold #4)  Only Yours (Fool's Gold, #5)  Only His (Fool's Gold, #6)  Only Us (Fool's Gold, #6.1) Almost Summer: A Fool's Gold Novella (Fool's Gold, #6.2)   Summer Days (Fool's Gold, #7)  Summer Nights (Fool's Gold, #8)  All Summer Long (Fool's Gold, #9)  A Fool's Gold Christmas (Fool's Gold, #9.5)  Halfway There (Fool's Gold, #9.75)  Just One Kiss (Fool's Gold, #10)  Two of a Kind (Fool's Gold, #11)  Three Little Words (Fool's Gold, #12)  Christmas on 4th Street: Yours for Christmas  When We Met (Fool's Gold, #13)  Before We Kiss (Fool's Gold, #14)  Until We Touch (Fool's Gold, #15)  Yours for Christmas (Fool's Gold, #15.5)  Hold Me (Fool's Gold, #16)

Second Chance Summer

Second Chance Summer (Cedar Ridge, #1) Second Chance Summer (Cedar Ridge #1) by Jill Shalvis

Publication Date: June 30, 2015

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Synopsis:

When Lily Danville left Cedar Ridge 10 years ago, she never thought she would return. Cedar Ridge holds too many bad memories. But now Lily’s lost her job and the only place willing to hire her is a salon in her hometown. So she’s back and doing everything she can to avoid running into her teenage crush, Aidan Kincaid.

Aidan Kincaid’s one regret is letting Lily Danville go without a fight. Now, she’s back in town and he’s going to do anything he can to convince her to give him a second chance.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was excited when I heard that Jill Shalvis was coming out with a new contemporary romance series. I really enjoyed reading her Lucky Harbor, Animal Magnetism and The Wilder series. She’s one of my go-to contemporary romance authors. I’m pretty much guaranteed to enjoy one of her books.

Second Chance Summer was no different. The Colorado mountain setting was beautiful and the possibilities for it in future novels are endless. I enjoyed Lily’s storyline and how more and more about what she went through was revealed as the story progressed. Her relationship with Aidan was funny and adorable.

My favorite part of Second Chance Summer, though, was Aidan Kincaid. Jill Shalvis creates the best male characters. They’re always equal parts strong, compassionate and badass. I love how they don’t become wimps when they fall in love. I also loved Aiden’s entire family. Their interactions with each other were hilarious. They also all had cool backstories that I can’t wait to read about in future novels.

If you’re looking for a fun summer contemporary romance read, you can’t go wrong with Second Chance Summer.

Calm Like Home

Calm Like Home - Kaisa ClarkCalm Like Home by Kaisa Clark

Publication Date: July 15, 2015

Publisher: Kaisa Clark

Synopsis:

Alexa Clausen looks forward to her summers waiting tables. It may or may not have to do with the fact she gets to work with the gorgeous Adam Westbrook. She’s decided this is the summer for her chance with him–if only she can get up the nerve to show him she’s interested.

Alexa didn’t have to worry, though; Adam is definitely interested in her. Every minute with his infectious smile is exciting and fun. Alexa never knew she could fall so hard or so fast for someone. The only problem is Alexa feels like there’s something missing. Adam seems to be hiding something. She’s determined to break down his walls and learn everything there is to know about him, if Adam will let her.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Oh, my goodness. This book was so easy to identify with. It felt like a flashback to my college days. Seriously. At the time, I worked in a restaurant and my apartment had a pool. I didn’t have a relationship with anyone from work, but I did hang with my co-workers. I remember the camaraderie between us. It was just like the banter the author created between the characters in Calm Like Home. Their exchanges were so much fun to read!

I also remember it being a tough time relationship wise — the insecurity and always wondering where I stood in relationships. So many of Alexa’s emotions in this book were mine back then. Really, the ups and downs of the story couldn’t have been more perfect. Kaisa Clark did an amazing job writing a relationship where one person isn’t willing to share all of themselves with the other person. Every emotion in the story felt genuine. The story was sweet, but very real and raw. I loved it.

My only complaint with Calm Like Home is that it ended before I wanted to be done reading it. I wanted more Alexa and Adam! (I know, I know. That’s not really a complaint.) I would highly suggest it to readers that love emotionally packed NA romances. The sex scenes are not descriptive, so it would even be safe for a less mature reader.

Thank you to Kaisa Clark for the opportunity to read and honestly review Calm Like Home.