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Tina (HDB)

Book reviews, random musings and all things mischievous. 

Currently reading

The Fireproof Girl (Sophie Shields Book 1)
Loretta Lost
American Gods: A Novel
Neil Gaiman
Progress: 350/750 pages
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
Jenny Lawson
Progress: 72 %
Billow
Emma Raveling

Review: Love Hack

Love Hack - Kimberly Dean

I had some high expectations for Love Hack since I married a guy who works in IT and I've been around "geeks" my whole life. While the story was interesting, the characters fell a little flat for me. I wanted a bit more from Spencer and the instant stud scenario didn't really help anything.

 

Josie is a pretty typical girl navigating a high stress work situation while trying to deal with an ex boyfriend who invaded her privacy in the worst way. Her bubbly personality comes through as her attraction to the geek guy grows. Spencer was a little far fetched for me. He was described as going from a lanky geek guy to a hot stud with abs after a few weeks of working out. He discusses "studying" for sex and is apparently really great at it. There was even a comment about "leveling up" while in the act. It was all a little.... meh for me. Geeks are normal people, with normal hang ups. Inserting some slang terms and stereotypes doesn't really create a great character for me. I wanted more from him.

 

That being said, I did enjoy this little novel. It's fun and flirty and of course a bit suspenseful too. An interesting take on the perks of knowing IT security and how that can be advantageous when dealing with people posting things about you on the internet that may not be flattering. I would recommend this to readers who enjoy a good romance book with a bit of suspense.

Review: The Unsound Theory

The Unsound Theory - Emilia Zeeland

As you may have noticed, it has been a very slow year for me reading wise. Who knew having an infant and toddler to take care of full time would leave me little "me" time. The chronic sleep deprivation hasn't helped things either, but the plus side is that the few books I have managed to get to this year have been amazing. This one is no exception.

 

In true YA fashion, Yalena has a cryptic past that leads her on a journey to find both her origins and herself. This being the first book in the series, there is a lot of informative information and character introductions but it's a great lead in to what is sure to be a fantastic series. Yalena is an interesting character who surprised me a bit as she found her own voice in a sea of overachievers.

 

I really enjoyed the world building elements that Zeeland includes. Brief history lessons that you attend with Yalena and her classmates make this space world more and more interesting. Of course, what's a good novel without some romantic interests and competitive drama to keep things interesting. STAR Academy is a college level specialty school by invitation only. It is an elite group of students expected to become the next best thing in their respective fields, no pressure there.

 

I highly recommend this book to science fiction fans, especially those who enjoy young adult as well. Space is the next frontier and there is so much to learn from the next generation of explorations. The Unsound Theory has a little bit of everything in it and I can't wait for the next installment of this series!

GIVEAWAY!

Reblogged from Jessica (HDB):
Emergency Contact - Mary H. K. Choi

Hey loves!

 

I'm giving away a copy of this gorgeous book on my blog, courtesy of Simon Teen and Big Honcho Media. If you have a U.S. mailing address, and this looks like something you'd like to read, would you please go and enter? :D

 

Click here!

Sugar Lump Review

Sugar Lump - Megan Gaudino

There is so much to unravel about this story, I really enjoyed following CC around her new town getting to know the quirky characters. At the end of the day it's a very interesting commentary on the wedding industry as a whole and the promise of "happily ever after". I was anticipating a much different outcome to the mystery of this town, but was happily satisfied with the closure.

 

CC is a fairly typical seventeen year old girl who wants to fit in and find a place that feels like home, her dad promises that Sugar Lump is that place. With his dream job baking wedding cakes in the wedding capital he assures CC that his wanderlust days are over. There is some mystery as to why, but as they settle in to their new house and CC gets to know the town, the mystery just gets more complicated. Every character in this story provides some clue as to what goes on "behind the scenes" in town, but every piece of information just adds more confusion to CC's life. You will enjoy going on this adventure with CC and her new friends as the pieces eventually fall into place.

 

The wedding industry is an interesting one and a whole town devoted to it is actually not all that surprising. Ask anyone who has planned a wedding in the last 15 years and they can tell you that the wedding industry is crazy with a capital C. Just the mention of a wedding at a venue or caterer and the price magically goes up. Providing the "perfect" wedding day is a full time business and a very prosperous one for many people. The promise of happily ever after is what most couples are looking for and Sugar Lump provides that. But is everything the way it seems?

 

I highly recommend this fun and insightful mystery of the small wedding town of Sugar Lump. You won't be disappointed.

 

(there's a giveaway over on my blog if you want a copy!)

Interesting Commentary on Wedding Culture

Sugar Lump - Megan Gaudino

Full review to come later, but I really enjoyed this book! Lots of subtle commentary on the wedding culture and emphasis on the wedding (not marriage) part. 

Review: Double Take

Double Take - Abby Bardi

Bell-bottoms, booze and mystery are all a big part of this story. Bardi does a wonderful job painting the picture of Casa Sanchez and the way things used to be. Rachel aka Cookie remembers all the subtleties of her experiences and does a great job bringing you with her down memory lane.

I never quite connected with Rachel as a character, perhaps because things like bulimia were thrown around without context or point. Regardless, looking for truths from your past is always an interesting storytelling element. I enjoyed getting to know Cookie and the life she lived prior to present day and though her motivations for change at the end of the book are still a bit fuzzy for me, I'm going to say that I think she found what she was looking for.

If you enjoy reading about a small group of misfits from the late '60's/early '70's then you should definitely give this book a chance. It was an interesting ride.

 

 I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

 

2018!

Happy New Year! May your coffee be hot, your sleep be plentiful and your anxieties be minimal.

Review: Dark & Stormy

Dark & Stormy - J. Mercer

Our story starts out simple enough, a new girl in town meets cute hometown guy and he falls head over heels instantly. The amount of discussion regarding their lust, but respectful lust, was a bit excessive for my tastes. I understand new relationships are exciting and full of positive emotions, I just feel like it was a bit of instalove and an extraordinary amount of discussion about the feel of each others skin and trying to control their lust for each other.

The story moves forward eventually and we get into the drama of the story. Friends and exes interfering, a mysterious past that was never discussed, you get the idea. I actually really loved Savannah as a character. She was feisty and determined and I feel like every small town has a Savannah in it. Faryn and Kai were an interesting match, but his overprotective nature was never really addressed.

All in all, not my favorite story I've read lately but certainly had some interesting characters and a very small town feel which I enjoyed. I wasn't so shocked by the twist at the end because there was some foreshadowing for it, but it was as good finish to the story.

 

TW: Mental health issues/suicide 

Review: A Wanted Man

A Wanted Man - Robert B. Parker

Truth be told, this book was a bit jumbled at first. We jump right into Ben's life and there's very little explanation. I would have preferred a little introduction but we do get a bit of history and context as the book progresses. Needless to say, there is some graphic violence discussed, so be wary of that.

By the middle of the book I was really enjoying it. I did figure out one of the plot twists pretty early on, but that didn't particularly deter from the story. There was, in my humble opinion, a bit too much discussion of the various settings Ben encounters. While I do enjoy knowing the world the characters are experiencing (especially since I've never been there), there was just a lot of unnecessary inclusions that made the story drag a bit at times.

However, I really enjoyed Ben as a character and the ending was an interesting outcome. Ben is a vigilante and lives by his own set of rules, which aren't clear at the beginning of the story. I found myself waiting to see what his next move might be, and I was consistently surprised. I'm definitely interested to read his next adventure.

Book Review: The Smallest Thing

The Smallest Thing - Lisa Manterfield

Don't forget to keep the tissues nearby, this story will leave you with a lot of emotions. This is such a heartfelt story about how tragedy can bring people together and tear them apart in the most dire circumstances. Emmott is every 17 year old growing up in a small town just waiting for the day they can start their "real" life, and then real life shows up in a very unexpected way.

 

There are so many roller-coasters in this telling tale about a small village impacted in a most severe way. I really enjoyed going through it with Emmott and watching her blossom with understanding as her preconceived notions of life are challenged in every way. 

 

I would highly recommend this to readers who don't mind facing the realities of life and death and enjoy a well crafted coming of age story. 

 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Review: Ann, not Annie

Ann, Not Annie - Sage Steadman

I have to say that the blurb is slightly misleading here, there are some heavy themes going on in this story that I think are most appropriate for an older young adult audience. That being said, I really enjoyed Annie's character. Friendship, family and grief are all strong themes and they blend together beautifully in this well crafted story. 

 

Ann isn't quite sure where she fits in at her high school and we are taken on a journey with her through navigating the complexities of high school friendships and family drama. I really enjoyed Ann's quick wit and sarcasm and her character felt very real. Dealing with a tragedy that shakes up your whole world view is daunting and we learn a lot about Ann and her strength throughout, but of course no good coming of age story would be complete without some major bad decisions along the way. 

 

There is much to be said about grief and the many forms it takes. The raw emotions that Ann and her brother Tommy share made me tear up. So many emotions running high and relying on each other was the best thing to do and it really showed a realistic view of siblings. The family drama that is ongoing in the background of story is heavy, but necessary. It was an important part of Ann's story and it was nice reading something that felt very personal. 

 

All in all this was a well written story with a characters, don't let the romance tag fool you, this story is about a lot more than dating. I recommend this to readers older than 16 because of some of the content, but I definitely would pick up a copy today. 

 
 
I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Book Review: Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats

Pink Lock Picks and Sequined Witch Hats - Carla Rehse

This book is just what I needed to get me out of my reading slump. I joined bout of books last week in an attempt to motivate myself to get some reading done and I'm glad I picked this lovely gem to focus my efforts on.

 

First off, Gracie is awesome. She's a no nonsense and all nonsense girl all rolled in one. Sometimes the name dropping of all the different designers was a bit distracting from the story, but I understand it was necessary to build up Gracie's over the top, only child, rich kid connections. Despite her background, I think Gracie's character was well rounded and a lot of fun. 

 

Asher and Willow round out the trio of misfits and their interactions with Gracie made me laugh out loud. They have seen their share of tragedy and frustration at such a young age, but are empowered and stubborn enough to try to change the way things are. I would love to read a book from Willow's perspective because I think it would be full of sarcasm and wit. 

 

For keeping me entertained and turning pages, this book gets a glowing 5 stars from me. It was well written, fun and just the right amount of seriousness to bring it to a conclusion. I would highly recommend it. 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 350 out of 750 pages.

American Gods: A Novel - Neil Gaiman

Not going to lie, it's hard to read this one in small doses. I wish I had several hours to just sit and read but I don't. I keep having to backtrack and remind myself what's going on with the characters, but at least I'm making some progress. At this rate I should be finished by Christmas. ohy. 

Reading progress update: I've read 250 out of 750 pages.

American Gods: A Novel - Neil Gaiman

There are definitely some.....unexpected....encounters so far. Everything still feels separated so I'm hoping the characters start to feel more connected soon.

Book Review: Grace and the Fever

Grace and the Fever - Zan Romanoff

Where to start? I knew this would be a great read as soon as I started it. Grace is a pretty typical teenager who happens to be obsessed with a boy band. As someone who once had N'Sync and Backstreet Boys posters all over my wall, I immediately related to her interests. Unlike her friends, Grace never outgrew her love of Fever Dream and it caused her to grow apart from them.

 

This coming of age story really covered a lot of relationship issues that young adults deal with and I really enjoyed getting to know Grace through all of them. While the main focus was on Grace's interactions with Jes and the band, reading about her navigation through her friendships was equally important. This book tackles some basic parenting/friendship issues but also goes through the online identity stress and of course, celebrity privacy issues. It sounds like a lot, but the story was well rounded and a very fun read.

 

There is so much going on with Grace as she meets her idols and subsequently gets pulled into their world, it was refreshing to feel the nervousness and trepidation she experienced. The author does a wonderful job of pulling you into the moment and running away with it. I didn't want to put the book down.

 

The celebrity lifestyle comes with a lack of privacy and a lot of its own subculture. Jes' character was realistic and full of surprises. His acknowledgement of his lack of "regular" experiences hit me right in the heart. Adolescence is such an important part of growing up and a rock start lifestyle definitely isn't a normal youth experience. I imagine most young stars would relate to those feelings.

 

I would highly recommend this book to YA readers, especially those who really enjoy a story about coming into your own skin and learning from some hard life lessons.

 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, I was not monetarily compensated and my opinions are my own*

SPOILER ALERT!

Book Review: Seeds of Eden

Seeds of Eden - Richard A. Watson

Full disclosure, I totally missed the "part 1 of a series" in the title of this so I was not expecting a cliffhanger ending. So be warned, you may have to wait a bit to get some resolution from these characters. That being said, I would also recommend this as a YA book as opposed to New Adult audiences. I will explain why in a moment.

 

Let's start with the things I really enjoyed about this novel. Based on the description I was expecting some intrigue and revelations and it did not disappoint. This fresh take on reincarnation and some prominent religious figures gave the story depth and kept me turning the pages. If you are looking for a bit of historical fiction with your paranormal romance, this is definitely the book for you.

 

A few things that I enjoyed less: the high school drama/immaturity of the main character. Now hear me out, I love a good YA story, this was not advertised as such so when Evey and Helen fight over Conrad it felt out of place and a bit annoying. I did like that Evey questioned everything that was being thrown at her and didn't take anything at face value. She asked a lot of questions and didn't go into full blown hero mode ignoring all other factors, which made her much easier to relate to. She grieved the losses and wasn't ready to move on, and asked for help when she needed it.

 

Conrad's character felt a bit creepy at times and I wasn't really rooting for him by the end of the book. Despite his history with Evey and the Concilium, the way his romantic interests came to light was a bit awkward. I cannot pinpoint exactly what bothered me about it, maybe the fact that he remembers their history and Evey doesn't, but it left me feeling uneasy.

 

As I stated earlier, I think this book would be better categorized as YA instead of New Adult, given the maturity level of several main characters, but I would still recommend it. The ideas and storytelling are new and interesting and I'm still mildly curious what will happen in the next book.