To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han


to all the boys I've loved beforeTitle: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Published: April, 2014 by Simon & Schuster

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Synopsis

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

My Thoughts

Where, oh where do I begin with this book? I bought it as a sort of bubble gum-fluffy-cutesy-quick breeze through read, and I wasn’t disappointed on that front. But my problem with this book is, was it really about all the boys she loved before?

I picked up this book hoping to nostalgically reconnect with the sort of crushes my younger self used to have. Instead, I got a heaping of sisterhood. Sisterhood is great and all, and I’ve always enjoyed books on that topic, but I was not expecting that in this book. Han packaged this book to be about cute young crushes when it was really about the protagonist, Lara Jean’s relationship with her older sister and said sister’s unattainable perfection.

Margot, Lara Jean’s big sister, is one of those characters who are supposed to be perfect and meticulous and fastidious and do everything correctly. I only ever got to see her through Lara Jean’s eyes, and Lara Jean basically worshiped the ground she walked for most of the book, which got really boring really fast. Lara Jean obviously idolized Margot and measured herself up against her big sister’s perfection.

I didn’t particularly like Lara Jean or Margot, but I loved their little sister, Kitty. Kitty had an acerbic tongue, which I really enjoyed. She was sharp witted, a little sassy, and a breath of fresh air in a book filled with such stuffy characters.

The actual romance aspect of the book was pretty predictable. However, I did enjoy some really cute parts between Lara Jean and two of the boys she’d loved before. Those gave me what I’d been looking for: adorable, sweet, young teenage crushes. I also liked the way Han developed the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter. I noticed how she basically recycled the camaraderie between Belly and her summer boys from her Summer Trilogy but basically switched the genders to end up with Josh and his Song girls. Somehow, it worked.

Even though the romance was predictable, it was endearing and lovely. I had a good time reading Lara Jean’s winsome letters to her crushes. I really liked her ‘fake’ relationship, and how it transformed into actual ‘love’. It was engaging.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I’ll just tell you that if you’re looking for a fluffy bunny romance alone, you’ll be looking for a diamond in the rough. It may or may not be worth it.

Honorable mention to the cover – It was so adorable and picturesque! I loved to gaze upon it during reading breaks. It looked delicious, in a cupcake-y sort of way. A+ for the cover design!

I feel the need to mention that I really appreciated the threading of Han’s Korean heritage into Lara Jean’s story, because I felt that the inclusion of her Korean culture really enriched the book.

What was up with all the food though? I strongly believe this whole book actually revolved around food. It was certainly a major theme in the story! Han never ceased to mention the food Lara Jean was making, or eating, or just thinking about. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything with that much cuisine in it (apart from a cookbook).

To sum this review up, I thought the book was delightful and charming with its romance but didn’t care much for the in-depth dwelling on Lara Jean’s sister, Margot, and was taken off guard by all the mentions of food and eating in the book.

3/5

3 stars

The Nashville Series by Inglath Cooper


The Nashville Bind-Up (Parts 1-4)nashville

By Inglath Cooper

Published on December 17, 2014

Received for Review

450 Pages

Part One – Ready to Reach
Ever thought a dream might pass you by?

Nineteen-year old CeCe Mackenzie is determined to make her dreams come true. She heads for Nashville with not much more to her name than a guitar, a Walker Hound named Hank Junior and an old car she’d inherited from her grandma called Gertrude. But when Gertrude ends up on the side of I-40 in flames, Nashville has never seemed farther away. Help arrives in the form of two Georgia football players headed for the Nashville dream as well. When Holden Ashford and Thomas Franklin stop to offer CeCe and Hank Junior a ride, fate may just give a nod to serendipity and meant to be. Because while CeCe is chasing after her dream, she might find love as well.

Part Two – Hammer and a Song
CeCe McKenzie grew up dreaming of a life doing what she loves – singing in Nashville. When she and her Hound dog Hank Junior set out to make her dream come true, life takes some twists she hadn’t counted on. Like falling for Holden Ashford, a songwriter with a gift. And also a girlfriend. Can a country music star’s hunky son help her forget about Holden? Or is that even possible when her heart insists on writing the song?

Part Three – What We Feel
Hunky musicians Holden Ashford and Thomas Franklin rescue Nashville bound CeCe MacKenzie and her Walker Hound Hank Junior from the side of the road when her car catches on fire. A less determined girl might have let her dreams go up in smoke as well, but not CeCe. She’s been singing all her life, and she just wants a chance to do the thing she loves in a place where music is part of the fabric of life. As it turns out, Holden and Thomas want the same thing, and it isn’t long before they’re all chasing after the dream together.

Falling in love hasn’t figured in to CeCe’s plans, but the moment she sets eyes on Holden, her heart is asking why not? Holden is drawn to her as well, but he already has someone in his life, Sarah who still lives in Atlanta, Sarah who loves him. Who he thought he loved back until CeCe makes him realize he hadn’t really known that love could turn him inside out.

But an unexpected visit from Sarah brings to light a terrible truth and Holden is faced with a choice between doing the right thing or permanently defining himself as a guy he never thought he would be.

It is only in letting each other go that both Holden and CeCe will come to understand that in life and love, the part that’s real is what we feel.

Part Four – Pleasure in the Rain
Just as Barefoot Outlook begins to hit the big time, tragedy strikes when a rage-filled Nashville musician who hasn’t found the success he’s hoped for crashes an after-concert party and begins shooting. Among the victims are band members CeCe MacKenzie, Holden Ashford, Thomas Franklin, Beck Phillips and his country music star dad, Case.

With each of them gravely injured, one will not survive, forever changing the lives of everyone involved. Will one man’s hatred and contempt demolish all of their dreams, or will they eventually reach a place where they can even take pleasure in the rain?

My Thoughts

I cannot possibly review each part separately since I seriously just continued from one section to the next. I can say that this book was a really cute contemporary full of lots of emotions, drama and love.

The Writing….

I really enjoyed the story line and the character development. The writing just flowed and the end of each chapter left me with my mouth gaping and wanting more!

The Characters…..

I loved all of the characters. Cece MacKenzie is a great person and one that I could see as being a personal friend of mine. Thomas is also a very complex character and I am hoping that he will meet someone special of his very own soon. Holden is the brooding bad boy. I must say though that my favorite character would have to be Hank Junior, Cece’s hound dog:) I just loved every scene that he was included in and the fact that the author probably really hit the nail on the head when explaining his facial expressions or what he was thinking!

The Love Story…..

There was more love going on in this story than just that between a man and a woman. There was the love between man and dog, the love between Cece and Thomas which was like brother/sister. Then, of course, the love between Cece and Holden, which would happen to be my personal favorite! (hubba hubba)

The Author….

I was very excited to review this book for Ms. Cooper. Not only is she a wonderful Back Cameraauthor and you can bet that I will be hunting down the next installment of The Nashville Series, BUT, she is also VERY active with animal rights. I have read somewhere that she is very active amongst shelter dogs/rescues, which is something that I hold in very high regard! After all, our Harper was a rescue from Ohio during BSL. She is our Lab/Pit mix and also our baby! So, I would like to send a HUGE thank you to Ms. Cooper for all that she does for the animal community!!

Harper

Harper

4 stars

H. Lee

Book of Shadows (Sweep #1) by Cate Tiernan


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Book of Shadows (Sweep #1) by Cate Tiernan

Published by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers (January 29, 2001)

Something is happening to me that I don’t understand.

I see things, feel things in a new way. I can do things normal people can’t do. Powerful things. Magickal things. It scares me.

I never chose to learn witchcraft. But I’m starting to wonder if witchcraft is choosing me.

How I Feel About It:

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Okay, so I’m sort of cheating. This is the third time I have read this book. The first time I was 14, second time I was 20, and now again at 27. I started reading it to see if my feelings toward it have changed since I am older and wiser (ha!). It was like watching my favorite movie over again. I just fell right back in tune with my old friends.

Since this is a series of 14 short-ish books I’m going to try to give a review of all of them. However, some I might condense into a two-part.

What I Loved:

Morgan. I think the reason that I loved this series so much is because Morgan and I have a lot in common. She is a very relatable character – if you were a scholar-nerd who had super popular and beautiful friends that were hard to compete with. Morgan is very quiet, a follower, and she has big dreams. I feel like Morgan is always standing in her friend Bree’s shadow and is desperate to find something that is all her own. I didn’t blossom until after high school so I understand her pain.

Cate’s Writing Style. Everything is from Morgan’s POV with the occasional journal entry from unknown characters. The journal entries (little snippets at the beginning of every chapter) are only recognizable by different fonts. Each character has their own font – but you still have to guess who they are. I think it’s very enjoyable to get an insight in a character through their own mind without actually knowing if it’s them or not.

The Magick. I feel like Cate did a lot of researching Wicca to give us such a great story. I never feel like she just made something up off the cuff. I truly believe she honors the religion in this story.

What I Didn’t Love:

The Length of the Book. I know from reading them before that these were cut up and divided into smaller books when some of them could have been combined to make one. For instance, books 1 and 2 could have merged and been book 1. I’m not sure why they decided to make 13 small ones and 1 special edition novel for 14 total. Maybe it’s a Wicca thing.

High School Drama. I realize it’s a book about kids in HS, but some of the moments just oozed High School. Granted, the first two times I read the book I didn’t notice it. So even though it bothers me a little now, it’s completely appropriate for the story and these characters. (Plus, I know how it all ends and I’m excited to see them all grow as characters!)

All in All:

I’m so excited to be reading these again. I keep going over in my head scenes from future books and I’m honestly thrilled to be reminded how the characters get there. Even though I’ve read this more than once I still don’t have it memorized and have forgotten quite a bit. I can’t wait to finish this journey with my old friends again!

I highly recommend this series if you’re interested in magick and fictional history!

<3

Tara

Review & Guest Post: Broken Blood by Heather Hildenbrand


broken blood

Broken Blood by Heather Hildenbrand

Published March 7, 2015 by Elephantine Publishing

I thought watching my Werewolf boyfriend get arrested for murder was the worst experience of my life. But then I was knocked out and dragged off to a cell of my own by the very people who were supposed to protect me from danger.

I thought being held prisoner in solitary confinement for weeks on end was the worst experience of my life. But then a visitor came, and I realized I’d been wrong all along. There are worse things than torture and death. Much worse.

He wants my blood. More than that, he wants to get into my head. To use my bond to control his army, to wipe the world clean of anything with dirty blood. I can’t let that happen, but if I don’t he’ll kill every single person I’ve ever cared about—beginning with my Werewolf pack.

The prophecy said I would have to make an impossible choice, but I must be doing this wrong—so far every choice I’ve made has only led to more pain and danger and death. Hunters are pitted against Werewolves and I’m alone in my war against Gordon Steppe. I can’t fight him off anymore; all I can do is try to keep him out of the important places. And I’m failing at even that.

I thought the demons were out there, clearly marked and clinging to the shadows. But they’re not. The monsters are within the ranks of those sworn to protect. The enemy is among us.

Review

I have followed Ms. Hildenbrand from the beginning and I am one of her number 1 fans! I love this series and honestly cannot get enough of the characters!!

I cannot believe that this is the fifth book in this series! In my opinion, this is the best one yet! (I think I say that about each one! LOL) For those of you whom have not read a book written by Heather or just have not read this one yet, be prepared to not want to put it down! This installment is filled with lots of drama, action & suspense! We also get to see some characters that we thought had been gone but SURPRISE they are back!!!

At the beginning of the book Tara is trapped in a cage left wondering what had happened to the rest of her pack and Wes.  I really felt like this:

travislol

I must start by saying that I am totally Team Alex. If you have not been introduced to Alex yet, then you need to start reading the first book in the series, Dirty Blood. Alex is awesome and I am always secretly hoping that Tara will give him a chance. It’s not that I dislike Wes but I just adore Alex more:)

Tara is definitely a kick ass heroine. I love to see how much stronger she gets in each book from the small, frail girl that we had seen from the beginning.

If you have read the rest of books in the series, then you will not want to miss out on this one! OR, if you love werewolf stories, then this series is definitely for you!! I highly recommend it!!

5-stars

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Guest Post

Heather has written a special post in Alex’s POV!!

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 I know, you are just as excited as I am! So here we go….

Alex’s POV for the morning after goodbye:

Alex stood on the roof of Griffin Hall for what would be the last time and looked out over the grounds of Wood Point. From here, all of the buildings were visible—and bustling with activity, even this early. Parents loading their cars with their student’s baggage. Kids horsing around or exchanging numbers. One last kiss with their latest beau.

He had done none of that. The few people he knew well enough to say goodbye to were going with him as part of Kane’s hunting party. Except for her. But he’d already said his goodbyes and he wasn’t up for doing it again.

Damn, but it’d been hard to walk away last night.

Especially after the way she’d thrown herself into his arms. Her dress bunched up around her thighs and tears streaking down her cheeks … he couldn’t get the image out of his head. He wouldn’t for a long time, he was sure.

In some ways, he hated the way she affected him. She was nothing like what he should want. But it’s not like he’d been able to control it.

Just then, the door to Lexington Hall opened and she walked out into the filtered sunlight of the courtyard. Cambria was beside her. He’d heard they were spending the summer together. His chest pinged with jealousy. Part of him wished it were him she would be spending time with this summer—but at least she had a friend. She deserved some fun, some down time after everything that’d happened the past few weeks.

From his perch on the roof, he watched them cross the courtyard, smiling and talking, as they headed for closing assembly. He knew the bus would be waiting on him by now but he couldn’t take his eyes off her. The cheap, black gown she wore did nothing to diminish her beauty. Her tanned skin gleamed smooth and fresh and her hair glistened in the sunlight. She looked untouchable.

Or at least, that’s how it felt as she passed through the doorway leading to the auditorium and disappeared from view.

It felt final. He hated the ache it left in his ribs.

From the other side of Griffin Hall, a horn sounded. He sighed and finally turned for the stairs.

H. Lee

Batman: A Death in the Family


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Batman: Death In the Family

Jim Starlin & Marv Wolfman

144 Pages

Published December 1st 1995 by DC Comics (first published 1988)

Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis:

Batman readers were allowed to vote on the outcome of the story and they decided that Robin should die! As the second person to assume the role of Batman’s sidekick, Jason Todd had a completely different personality than the original Robin. Rash and prone to ignore Batman’s instructions, Jason was always quick to act without regard to consequences. In this fatal instance, Robin ignores his mentor’s warnings when he attempts to take on the Joker by himself and pays the ultimate price. Driven by anger with Superman by his side, Batman seeks his vengeance as he looks to end the Joker’s threat forever.

My Thoughts:

First I have to start by saying this review has some spoilers in it.  This book is about Robin #2 Jason Todd, the spoilers aren’t  enough to ruin the whole entire story, but if you have no knowledge of Jason  than this will spoil you a little bit. If you want to learn more about Jason, then go on and read this.

I’ll admit it, I read Jason’s story backwards. I started with his New 52 title and got half way through before I decided I had to know his whole story. So I did some research and got the books I needed to know more about my  bloodthirsty vigilante, and the first book on that list was A Death in the Family.

The Death of the Family, takes off when Jason goes back to his old neighborhood and ends up learning some information that changes his life. Jason then sets out to learn more about  said information; at the same time Batman has his eyes set on the Joker and his next scheme.

This the book that ended Jason’s career as Robin, but ultimately started his role as the Red Hood – though we won’t see that until later titles. I liked Jason in this book, but by the time I started it I already loved him, so my opinion is biased. Jason was an interesting character, he as Batman says continuously throughout the book had “emotional baggage” he is dealing with the death of his parents and the toll of being Robin. Jason is rebellious and reckless, and doesn’t care or even think about what could happen to him. In later titles, Alfred says that Jason had a “mean streak”. Even though I loved him, in the 80s his run as Robin was not received well and it was the readers who decided to kill him off.

I don’t know who was the primary author for Jason’s run as Robin, but Jim Starlin wrote this and if he was the primary writer I’m not surprised the public didn’t take to Jason. The writing in this was pretty bad, I hated it. Though I loved Jason, it was easy to dislike him the way we was written. I even found Batman annoying, for such an epic hero he whines so much.  Thankfully though, after Jason’s demise the writing improves greatly. With Jason out of the picture we get into Bruce’s head and it so interesting. Bruce became reflective, and he was thinking about how he met Jason and what pushed him to make him Robin. We got a little  insight into Jason’s short time as Robin.

While the writing wasn’t the best, I still enjoyed the story. The first half I found myself really disliking it and finding the writing pretty mediocre. But within the beginning of the second half the story took off and the writing got significantly better. I found myself for the first time since starting this story actually enjoying it. We got great insight on Jason and his character, in the beginning he was this rebellious and reckless character, and then suddenly he wasn’t. I mean he was still reckless and rebellious but the decisions he made in the end was out of love and loyalty. It was those decisions that, will forever change the way I look at Jason.

Sample:

3 stars

What to read Next:

If you’re interested in reading more about Jason here are the books you should read next.

1. Batman: Red Hood – The Lost Days

2. Batman: Under the Red Hood – this book is excellent, I loved it!

3. Red Hood and the Outlaws, Vol. 1: Redemption

sam

 

 

 

Review & Release Blitz: Simple Beginnings by Janelle Stalder


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Simple Beginnings by Janelle Stalder

Published by March 10, 2015 via Smashwords

Ella Page planned to spend her summer before college like most girls her age – shopping, tanning, swimming, repeat. Instead she finds herself helping out on her grandma’s farm, where she is forced to work side by side with her ex-best friend, Gage Hunter. Despite her attempt to stay cool around the boy she no longer feels like she knows, the heat in the summer air just won’t stop rising. And with it, old feelings she’s not so sure were forgotten after all.

* 17+ Mature YA / New Adult. This book contains some strong language and sexual situations. For mature audiences.

Review

I have read many different books and a couple of different genres by Ms. Stalder and I can tell you that each time I finish one, I am surprised! I honestly do not know why since I enjoy every single story that she has written. I really should know by now that Janelle’s mind is a beautiful thing and can create works that are utter masterpieces!

The last place that Ella wants to spend her summer is on her grandma’s farm helping out, but she loves Nan and so she also loves the farm. The one thing that has kept her away is Gage Hunter, her long lost best friend from when they were kids. Gage has changed and Ella wants no part of him. Enter Gage…. He has always had a thing for his childhood best friend but can he win her heart???

This story was fantastic and I had a very hard time putting it down once I started. I loved Ella. She was your typical sweet girl next door and Gage was what she thought was your typical bad boy. But he ended up being so much more!

I highly recommend this read if you enjoy NA books. Janelle has a way with bending words to get them to flow precisely right. Each chapter was just as good as the next and I cannot wait to read what she has in store for us in the future!

5-stars

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H. Lee

Book Review: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise


white like me

White Like Me

Tim Wise

Published 2005

Amazon

Synopsis

With a new preface and updated chapters, White Like Me is one-part memoir, one-part polemical essay collection. It is a personal examination of the way in which racial privilege shapes the daily lives of white Americans in every realm: employment, education, housing, criminal justice, and elsewhere.

Using stories from his own life, Tim Wise demonstrates the ways in which racism not only burdens people of color, but also benefits, in relative terms, those who are “white like him.” He discusses how racial privilege can harm whites in the long run and make progressive social change less likely. He explores the ways in which whites can challenge their unjust privileges, and explains in clear and convincing language why it is in the best interest of whites themselves to do so. Using anecdotes instead of stale statistics, Wise weaves a narrative that is at once readable and yet scholarly, analytical and yet accessible.

My Thoughts

What a gem White Like Me is! I have become very socially conscious on matters of Race in America since August last year, with the infamous Ferguson incident, so I was very interested in what Tim Wise had to say. I actually got the book from my Theory of Knowledge teacher, who was giving out an extra copy he had bought. (Shout out to Michael LoStracco!)

In case you didn’t already know, Tim Wise is a white American who is working to educate people on race relations and combat racism in America. The essence of what he was saying in his book, White Like Me: racism still exists in America, there is such a thing as white privilege, the micro-aggressions blacks face daily, were all things that I already knew prior to reading about them in his book. Yet, it was still refreshing to read a white person saying all that, especially when it comes to white privilege.

He is very honest and candid, which really impressed me when I was reading. Too many times have whites been to plagued by white guilt rather than facing the truth. Not Tim Wise. He wrote the hard truth, and it made me ecstatic. He wrote about privilege, belonging, resistance, and collaboration, and I could only marvel at the infinite wisdom, self-awareness, and empathy pouring out of a white man when writing about an issue that never affects him (at least not negatively, something he never has to worry about in his life: race.

I wish I could meet Mr. Wise in real life and thank him for writing such a candid book on our so-called “post-racial society”. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It’s important to be educated on such delicate social topics as race in today’s world. In fact, it is essential in combatting the ignorance that still befalls many in America today when it comes to race.

Favorite Quotes

“What whites have rarely had to think about—because being the dominant group, we are so used to having our will done, with a little effort at least—is that maybe the point is not victory, however much we all wish to see justice attained and injustice routed. Maybe our redemption comes from the struggle itself. Maybe it is in the effort, the striving for equality and freedom that we become human.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

“So, in “Melting Pot” the children (about a third of whom were kids of color) sang the line, “America was the new world and Europe was the old,” in one stroke eradicating the narratives of indigenous persons for whom America was hardly new, and any nonwhite kids whose old worlds had been in Africa or Asia, not Europe.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

“Hardly any aspect of my life, from where I had lived to my education to my employment history to my friendships, had been free from the taint of racial inequity, from racism, from whiteness. My racial identity had shaped me from the womb forward. I had not been in control of my own narrative. It wasn’t just race that was a social construct. So was I.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me

“And in “Elbow Room” the cast sings the glories of westward expansion in the United States, which involved the murder of native peoples and the violent conquest of half of Mexico. Among the lines in the song is one that intones, “There were plenty of fights / To win land right / But the West was meant to be / It was our Manifest Destiny?” Let it suffice to say that happily belting out a tune in which one merrily praises genocide is always easier for those whose ancestors weren’t on the receiving end of the deal.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son