The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Publication Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Review Source: eARC Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads): When all signs point to heartbreak, can love still be a rule of the road? A poignant and romantic novel from the author of Bittersweet and Twenty Boy Summer.
Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.
Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?
Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?
Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.
I loved this book. Seriously. Loved it. I loved it so much that I've been kicking myself for never having read a Sarah Ockler book before this. How have I not read any yet? I even own both Twenty Boy Summer and Bittersweet. What is wrong with me?! If those are anything like The Book of Broken Hearts I'm going to be so mad for letting them just sit on my shelf for so long!
But let's focus for a few minutes on this book. Because I loved it (did you hear?) and I definitely think you should read it. We not only get a little bit of romance between Jude and Emilio (a new favorite!), we get a truly touching view into the relationship of a father with early onset Alzheimer's and his youngest daughter during the summer before she moves away for college. It is heartbreaking, emotional, and beautiful. It made me cry. And I almost never cry during books. I know I won't be able to do it justice here with my words, but this book seriously touched my heart.
A few things I liked best about this book were the main character Jude, her relationships with her sisters, the focus on family, and, of course, the romance. Jude is a wonderful MC and while she did have a problem sticking up for herself and really knowing what it was she wanted, she was brave and hopeful and loyal. Where there times I wanted to punch her for being such a pushover? Sure. But she grew up during the book and that's pretty much what it was all about. And the way she dealt with her father and his disease was much stronger than I could have ever been. Jude's relationships with her sisters changed as she changed throughout the book and even though I've never had sisters, let alone three who were much older than me, I appreciate the way they tried to take care of her and the way she always felt left out of their group. Emilio was pretty perfect as the male interest, a bit of a mysterious bad boy with a motorcycle and scars (literally and figuratively) but also a heart of gold. All of these components combined with the heartache of Alzheimer's made for one emotional ride and an excellent book.
Final Thoughts: Read this book. If you are a fan of YA Contemporaries, I really think you'll like this one. It was more emotional than I was expecting and the romance was definitely not the main focus, but it was a beautiful book about growing up, changing relationships, what's really important, not taking things for granted, seizing the moment, and all of those other things we sometimes forget about when we're busy focusing on our futures and goals instead of the present. I'm still heartbroken over her father's disease and his moments towards the end left me in tears. But the characters are strong so we're also left with hope. Not that her father will be able to beat the disease, but that love is real and broken hearts can be mended. I gave The Book of Broken Hearts 5 stars and highly recommend that you read it.
I'm happy to be a part of the Drowning in You blog tour today. I have a review of this New Adult Contemporary for you as well as information about the book and a giveaway!
Drowning in You (Finding Forever In Us #1) by Rebecca Berto
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Level: New Adult
Review Source: eARC provided for Blog Tour
Publication Date: April 12, 2013
Rating: 3/5 stars
Summary: Secretly crushing
Crushed by a tragedy
Charlee May’s been crushing on Dexter Hollingworth since she was fifteen. Five years later, a horrific skiing disaster at Mason’s Ski Lift Resort leaves her millionaire dad critically injured and her mom dead at the hands of Dexter operating the lifts. Charlee is suddenly the sole caretaker for her little brother while their world falls apart.
Dexter couldn’t be more different from Charlee. He’s tattooed, avoids exclusive relationships and his Dad has a fair share of illegal dealings. With Dexter’s reputation, almost everyone believes he planned the Mason’s skiing disaster.
And after all these years he’s still crushing on Charlee May, the girl who’s too good for him.
When this cruel twist of fate ties Charlee’s family and Dexter’s reputation together, Charlee and Dexter wonder if their feelings are reciprocated, while Dexter discovers his dad is trying to steal the May’s millionaire fortune.
But like an addiction, one look, one touch, one taste—they’re hooked no matter the consequences.
That summary is something, isn't it? I love it. Tragedy. Attraction. Romance. Pain. Mystery. All in one book. And it is all in this book. Unfortunately, it wasn't done quite as well as I had hoped. But still, this book is enjoyable and I always like reading about characters in the New Adult age range.
When Drowning in You starts, the accident involving Charlee's parents at the ski resort has already taken place, so we're dumped right into the middle of it all. Charlee's mom is dead, her dad is struggling to survive in the hospital with extensive injuries, and Charlee has become the full-time caregiver for her ten year old brother. I love being dropped right into the thick of a story, especially when it comes without the awful info dump. The only problem this time was that the beginning ended up being a little bit confusing. The writing needed some smoothing out. It was too choppy and pretty hard to follow in the beginning.
By far the best parts of this story were the family moments. The times Charlee has with her dad and the emotions she goes through trying to care for Darcy are the most moving. Those are the times when I felt the strong emotions and the times that broke my heart. Even the times that Dexter has with his dad are surprising. The family connection was easily the strongest part of the story and the easiest part for me to connect with.
The biggest letdown in this book for me, unfortunately, was the romance between Charlee and Dexter. I had a hard time seeing the long-time attraction they each held for each other. It felt more like they'd just randomly known each other from the past rather than crushing on each other for years. They were cute together and they definitely had their moments, especially after moving past the awkwardness of their first few meetings in the book, I just didn't understand why they liked each other in the beginning.
Overall this book held both positives and negatives for me. I was surprised by the twist in regards to Dexter's dad, I loved the moments between Charlee and her family, I liked that Charlee and Dexter were a couple that seemed better together than they were apart, I liked the addition of Eliot and the way his story-line played out, but I really wish the writing had been stronger. I think a good editor could make this book something really special. I gave Drowning in You 3 stars.
This is a tour wide giveaway for 5 ebook copies of Drowning in You. The giveaway is open Internationally and provided by the tour.
It's time for another round of mini reviews. I've recently discovered the amazingness of audiobooks. I know, I'm a bit behind the times. But they are really great. They give me the chance to read even when I have other things that need to get done. So I've had the chance to get a bit caught up on books that I really wanted to read but never quite found the time. These are some of the most recent books I've listened to. Some I recommend, some I don't. Let me know what you think of these in the comments or recommend your own favorite audios to me. I'm on the lookout for good ones!
Of Poseidon (Of Poseidon #1) by Anna Banks: This is the first book I read that was dedicated to mermaids, so I wasn't sure how I would like it or what I would think beforehand. But I'd heard a lot about this Galen character, so I knew I had to check it out. The book starts out with a bang, no build-up here, it jumps right into the drama and I really enjoyed that about it. I also liked the funny dialogue, I actually laughed out loud a few times. I was also a pretty big fan of a few of the supporting characters in the book. Unfortunately, I also had some problems with it. The alternating POV was weird because it went from 1st person with Emma to 3rd person with Galen. Since I was listening to this on audio, it was confusing the first few times it changed. I also wasn't a huge fan of Galen. Gasp! I know. He was a bit controlling and felt like another Edward Cullen, totally beautiful and allowed to tell Emma what to do and not to do because he just loves her so much and knows what's best for her. Ugh. I also had issues with the total lack of rights given to female Syrena and a couple stereotyped characters. And, of course, Of Poseidon leaves on a bit of a cliffhanger. But the next one comes out later this month, so you won't have to wait too long if you read this one now. I thought Of Poseidon was cute and funny and the audio was pretty good but it just wasn't my favorite book ever. 3 Stars
Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) by Laini Taylor: I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone so much because it felt so different from anything I'd read before. I was nervous about not feeling those same things for a second book in the series, but I needed to know more about Karou and Akiva and what was going to happen. I need not have worried. Laini Taylor's writing is as beautiful and heartbreaking as ever in the sequel. I was on the edge of my seat for much of the book and the narrator did a wonderful job conveying all of the emotions. I cannot wait to read the final book in this series when it comes out next year. It is guaranteed to be epic. If you enjoyed the first book in this series you should definitely read this one. (Suzanna is still one of my favorite characters!) I gave Days of Blood and Starlight 4 stars and highly recommend the series to fans of fantasy books. I also highly recommend the audio of both books.
The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass: The Selection is a book that has been talked about a lot. When it first came out, I stayed away from it. I didn't want to get involved in the mess, support an author who would behave the way she did, and just wasn't that interested in the story. But after a while, when I saw the audio was available from my library, I thought why not? Turns out, I shouldn't have bothered. The Selection was originally said to be a cross between The Bachelor and The Hunger Games. I don't watch The Bachelor but I'm sure it is similar. But The Hunger Games? The only similarities I saw were the fact that The Selection is said to be dystopian and there is a competition that airs on TV. Otherwise, it is not even close. The Selection has about zero world building, a caste system that makes no sense at all, characters that are annoying and whiny, and a story where almost nothing happens. Except for a love triangle. Kind of. I don't know. I don't really have anything else to say about this book except that I really was not a fan. I don't often have books that I just don't like at all, but this was one. Also, the narrator on the audio sounded like a robot. I seriously stopped the audio after a couple minutes and looked it up because I thought it was a robot. It wasn't. I wouldn't recommend the book or the audio. I gave it 1 star.
If I Stay (If I Stay #1) and Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman: Oh my goodness, you guys, these books are so good. So. Good. (And nothing like Twilight, no matter what the cover says.) These are both contemporaries but the first has a sort of paranormal element because Mia has been in a car accident with her family and is telling the story as a sort of ghost while her body is in a coma in the hospital. She is trying to decide if she will stay and wake up or move on to whatever comes next. It is heartbreaking and raw but there is also hope and love. It is truly amazing. Where She Went is told from Adam's POV, Mia's boyfriend from If I Stay. It explores grief from a different POV and is also amazing and emotional. Both of these are also great examples of books that incorporate flashbacks and memories really well. I listened to these on audio back to back and they were better than I even imagined. I wasn't sure I could handle the emotions, but these books are beautiful and I highly recommend them. I also highly recommend the audios. They were each only about 5 hours, so they are very short and I promise you won't want to put them down! I gave If I Stay 4 stars and Where She Went 5 stars. Check them out!
For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars #1) by Diana Peterfreund
Review Source: ARC from ARCycling
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads): It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.
Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.
But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.
Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.
For Darkness Shows the Stars is an interesting book. It wasn't particularly good, but I couldn't put it down! I didn't really like Elliot that much, but I really wanted her to succeed. The romance wasn't my favorite, but I would have been crushed if they didn't get a happy ending. So it was a book full of contradictions for me and I wasn't sure how I was going to rate it until the very end. And in all honesty, I'm letting my emotions do more of the rating on this one than my brain. And sometimes, I think that's ok. So while For Darkness Shows the Stars wasn't technically great for me, I actually really enjoyed it.
Here are a few faults I found with the book: 1) There seemed to be a few holes in the world building. I wasn't totally satisfied with the explanation of the Reduction or how the Posts came to be or why the Luddites felt that taking care of the Reduced equaled keeping them as slaves. 2) Kai and Elliot were mostly just bitter, Kai was mean, and they rarely had any honest conversations with each other. I didn't feel much chemistry between them at all. 3) The writing was a bit choppy. Paragraphs and ideas didn't always seem to flow well from one to the next. 4) I was hoping for more of a discussion relating to the slavery issue in the book, especially towards the end when Elliot has more of an opportunity to change what goes on at the estate. But it is never addressed. Nor is the class structure. The Reduced and CORs are slaves, Posts that have run away are workers, and the Luddites are land owners. There is talk of a rebellion, but it never comes. Elliot talks about taking care of the Reduced and Posts on her estate, but she never offers them their freedom. I wanted more from her when it came to this.
The reasons I still gave it four stars? The letters. I'm really just a huge sucker for letters. I think it's the honesty that comes out in letters, the raw emotions, the truth, and the lack of wishy-washy feelings that really get me. A character can spend the whole book flipping back and forth on their feelings but they sit down to write a letter and it all comes out. I don't know why or if that's really the reason, but letters (and diaries) just pull me right in. And this book was no different. The look we get at the past relationship between Kai and Elliot through their letters was the best part of the book for me. It's where I felt the most emotions, learned the most about them, and wanted the most for them. The rest of the story was good enough and the supporting characters were interesting (Felicia, Dee, Ro, even Benedict offered something to the story), but without the letters I'm not sure it would have been enough.
All of that said, I really enjoyed the book and gave it four stars. I'm excited to read the next one, Across a Star-Swept Sea (based on The Scarlet Pimpernel), though I wish we could get more of Kai and Elliot. The way this book ended was how I liked to see them, what I had wished they had been in more of the book. But I'm sure the next one will be enjoyable with or without them. Because even though I had problems with the book, I still really enjoyed it and look forward to more stories from Peterfreund.
Also noteworthy, I have not read Jane Austen's Persuasion, which this book is based on, so I cannot comment on how they compare but I definitely want to pick it up and give it a chance now!
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
Review Source: eARC from Publisher via Edelweiss
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads): From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl's summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.
When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?
Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.
Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True was a cute YA romance novel. It had some interesting characters, a setting I haven't really seen much in books, some fun twists and turns, and a cute romance. But it wasn't anything spectacular.
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True tells the story of Zoe's summer internship at Fairyland, a theme park very similar to Disney World. Zoe and her cousin Jess have both been accepted for positions at the park and both have very different reasons for wanting to attend. For Jess, she needs to win the Dream & Do grant offered to one of the interns at the end of the summer to be able to afford college. Zoe goes because she wants to feel closer to her mother, who passed away and used to bring her to the park when she was younger. When they arrive, they meet their fellow interns and are given their assignments. Jess gets a character to play and Zoe ends up as the assistant to the Queen, who turns out to be very demanding. Zoe spends the rest of her summer running ridiculous errands for the Queen and her dog, filling in wherever she is needed, and waking up extra early to attend to the Queen. What Zoe and Jess thought would be a fun summer spent at the theme park entertaining kids turns into a stressful, unfriendly place full of people they aren't sure they can trust. In the end, they all need to decide which side they are on and what is most important to them: their friends and family, the park, or the money.
Overall the book was very cute. The beginning threw me a little and I had a hard time really accepting the Queen and the things that Zoe would do for her. I've never been in a position like that, so who knows what I would actually do. I also had a difficult time because the Queen is almost exactly like what I remember the boss being like in 'The Devil Wears Prada', so it did not feel at all original. I wanted to hate her for taking Zoe's summer away but mostly I was just annoyed with Zoe for putting up with such ridiculous requests and never standing up for herself. But she was doing it all for her cousin, so I can at least understand that part. The rest of the characters were pretty good, though they did tend to be pretty typical of books like this. But still, it worked and was enjoyable.
Unfortunately, Zoe just didn't live up to my expectations. When I read Smart Girls Get What They Want I was completely blown away. I had been looking for a book that was a light, fun, quick read but came away with life lessons I wasn't expecting. So when I saw Sarah Strohmeyer's new book, I was super excited. I couldn't wait to find out what we would be reading about this time, what journey Zoe and her cousin would go on, and what I would bring away from the book in the end. But unfortunately, this second book did not have nearly the same impact that the first one did. It may have been that I set myself up. I had zero expectations with Smart Girls but very high expectations with Zoe. If I read them in reverse order, it's hard to say how I would feel about both of them. I think that's the trouble with sophomore novels, many times they come with high expectations that weren't there with the debut. But I am glad I read Zoe and went on her journey, glad to experience another Strohmeyer novel, whether it was as good as the first or not. I will continue to look forward to more books from her. I think Sarah Strohmeyer is a great writer and has important stories to tell that make an important contribution to the YA book world. I hope we'll see more books like Smart Girls and Zoe from her in the future.
Final Thoughts: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True was a cute romance novel. It was a quick, fun, light read but didn't quite live up to the expectations I had for a Strohmeyer novel. And, while this has little relevance for me when reviewing a book, I do have to say that I LOVE the new covers for these books. In the end I gave Zoe 3.5 stars and would definitely recommend this book as a fun summer read.