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Tina's Reading Space

Book reviews, random musings and all things bookish. 

Review: Hitched by Britni Hill

Hitched - Britni Hill

This is a lovely conclusion to the Western Palm series. We get to revisit life with all of our favorite characters as they embark on the next phase of their lives. Marriage, babies, jobs, etc. Such a fitting conclusion to these friends stories. Make sure you catch up on the rest of the series before starting this one of course!

Reading progress update: DNF at 50%

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

I gave up. I just couldn't keep up with everything going on and it was very slow at times. I think it'll make an interesting show but I'm calling it quits at 50% on the book. 

Review: The Sweetest Match

The Sweetest Match - Abby Tyler

You know those stories that remind you of home? There's nothing earth shattering or huge plot twists but they are just a pleasant happy book. That's The Sweetest Match

 

Set in a small town in the Midwest, we meet cake decorator Sandy. Recently emerged from hiding in the outskirts of town since her teenage pregnancy, Sandy is cautious but optimistic about running into all of the people who shunned her years ago. Enter the match making old bitties. 

 

Andrew has had a crush on Sandy since high school and is excited to spend time with her again. With the help of the town busy bodies, the two of them are paired up to work on the school centennial. As with most new relationships, first impressions and baggage are hurtles to overcome. Luckily for Sandy, Andrew doesn't shy away easily. 

 

I wish the book included a little more history from Sandy's perspective. They touch on it occasionally but I think it would round out her character and make the story just a little more interesting if we heard more about her mother and what it was like staying out of town all those years. The story could use just a little more character depth, otherwise, I really enjoyed it. 

 

This is a feel good story with small town humor. If you've ever lived in a small town you know that there's a lot of gossip and not a lot of secrets kept. Luckily for Andrew and Sandy, they get their happily ever after. I'd recommend this story if you're in the mood for a sweet romance. 

Polar vortex
Polar vortex

As you can see it's too cold to leave the house. I get to entertain my 2 toddlers all day. There isn't enough coffee for all this nonsense. 

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

I'm having a hard time getting into this book. We're reading it for book club and I WANT to finish it but it's just feeling like it takes forever to read because I'm just not into it. I like the premise and the characters are interesting I just don't like the constant voice changing... Ugh. 

Updates, goals, and other ramblings

Hello my book loving friends. It has been entirely too long since I have enjoyed your company and I hope to remedy that in the near(ish) future. So much has gone on this past year it's hard to quantify in a short update but I will try to keep it short. 

 

So, on the lighter side of things, my days are very busy chasing my 2 toddlers around. Peanut started preschool last fall and Batman will be 2 in April. My how time flies! As you can imagine, wrangling a one and three year old keeps me busy. Cooking, cleaning, play dates, school events, shopping... it's exhausting and fun and everything in between. Unfortunately by the end of my day (or sometimes even the middle of it) I am left with little energy for myself and the things I enjoy. I know, I know, self care is important. I do try to get out regularly without the kiddos and my husband is supportive with all that. Mostly I just struggle with focusing on a book. Putting on a mindless movie or a tv show I love is just easier mentally most days. I'm hoping to improve on that in 2019. Now that Batman is sleeping though the night semi regularly and my sleep schedule is getting more regular I'm hoping my energy levels improve and I can enjoy reading again. 

 

On the harder side of things 2018 was rough. My husband was in 2 serious car accidents that totaled our cars (he's fine, thank goodness) and 2 minor accidents that involved repairs on the car. In addition to the paperwork/insurance nonsense there was a lot of  stress involved. The last part of the year just felt unbearable as I was dealing with one thing after another. Everyday I felt anxiety about what would happen next, and it sent me into a spiraling depression. There was a lot of little stuff that kept stressing me out too, but I don't want bore you with all the details. Then my grandfather died. I suffer from depression regularly, but this situational depression hit me harder than most and it's taken me a few months to get back to feeling okay. And I mean okay, not great or happy, but okay enough that I'm not in constant fear of the next proverbial shoe dropping. As you can imagine reading was not a high priority during this time. It took all of my patience just to get through the day. 

 

I'm happy to report that things are getting better. Now that the holidays/traveling/car situations are over I'm looking forward to settling into our routine again. Toddlers will still be toddlers but I'm feeling more and more like myself every day. Which works out because Bout of Books is starting this weekend and I think it'll be a great way to jump back into the reading game. 

 

I guess the point of this is to say that if you're struggling and reading isn't your thing right now, that's okay. Books will be there when you come back. Mental health is important and there's no pressure. I felt bad that I wasn't contributing to the book blog with my partner and it just added to the stress I was under. Luckily my partner is super awesome and supportive and never ever made me feel bad about my lack of reading. So there it is. Your insight for the new year, YOU DO YOU. 

 

Also, I'd really like to meet my reading goal this year. Life may get in the way but when I do make time to read I always feel better after. So yes, more reading less stress. Cheers to 2019!

Book swap
Book swap

It's a little late but my stranded island book swap box finally arrived today. We were supposed to meet up while I was visiting a few weeks ago but both my toddlers came down with a stomach bug and we had to cancel most of our vacation plans. Boooooo. But as you can see it was worth the wait. First aid kit and the razor really made me laugh. I never thought about the convenience of a razor before. So thanks Jessica!

Review: Fragments of Ash

Fragments of Ash - Katy Regnery

This was my first venture into the Modern Fairytale Collection series and I really enjoyed it. Truth be told, I didn't quite get the feel of the Cinderella story but I can see how they're related. This book is not for the lighthearted romantic there's a lot of dark sinister themes going on behind the scenes.

 

The slow reveal of the family secrets using Tig's diary is such a unique way for Ashley to learn about her mother's life. There is so much heartache and struggle, it really paints a vivid picture of what life was like for Tig under Mosier's thumb. Finding love in the hardest of circumstances is a theme I can always appreciate.

 

Ashley as a character is heartfelt and naive, I was rooting for her and also sad for her. The burdens of the life she had already lived and the potential life ahead of her were hard to feel excited about. Julian was a breath of fresh air after their initial awkward meeting. The slow budding friendship and romance was perfectly aligned with the story. It was heartfelt and real and kept the pages flying by.

 

The only reason this story isn't a 5 star for me is that the ending was a bit predictable. I still really loved the story and would recommend this readers who enjoy a suspenseful story with a happy ending.

Book Review: The Point

The Point  - John Dixon

This story started off strong. We meet Scarlett as she's blowing off her own high school graduation, much to her mother's dismay. She is a rebellious, angry, angsty teen who is struggling with her future plans. When she gets into trouble, her only option to avoid jail is to join the military program at West Point. 

 

Of course this isn't just a regular program at West Point, Scarlett has special abilities that the military is interested in. Posthumans are in their own program where they are learning to control and focus their powers. As is standard for Scarlett, she isn't that interested in doing what she's told. I liked her rebelliousness and bending of the rules despite her angst ridden feelings. 

 

I really enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book, where we learn all about Scarlett and her experience with other posthumans. My frustration with the ending is mostly that is feels so different from the rest of the story. We are quickly introduced to the enemy and there's a showdown of sorts. Very movie-esque in its hastiness. 

 

If you're looking for an interesting science fiction story that feels a lot like X-Men or the show Heroes, I think you would enjoy this book a lot. It definitely leans more towards Young Adult genre, but not in a bad way. 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. I was not monetarily compensated and my opinions are my own

Book Review: Inconvenient Wife

Inconvenient Wife - Natasha Boyd

Where to begin? This was another fun, interesting romance by one of my favorite authors. While not quite living up to the laugh out loud moments of the first book in this series (Accidental Tryst) I really enjoyed the tension building of this friends to lovers story. Gwen, or Gracie, and Beau have a definitive chemistry that most couples strive to find. Friendships are great, but when they can be more it can be even better.

 

I know this particular trope gets kind of a bad rap in the romance reading community, but I assure you that Boyd does a fabulous job keeping the story moving without falling into a repetitive pace that leaves the reader with that "will they just get it on already" feeling. I found myself reading easily and excitedly to find out what would happen next. There's a lot to unravel and I really enjoyed the other characters contributions to the story.

 

Beau is an idiot. I mean that in the nicest way possible. He does all the wrong things and seems to not understand women at all. For having a best friend that is female, he hasn't learned anything useful to his endeavor. It was hard to like him at all at first, but there are a few redeeming moments that saved his character for me. Apologies are important people, that's all I'm saying.

 

Gwen is fierce and gentle. She seems like someone I'd like to get a beer with and swap awful dating stories. I immediately related to her and it was easy to be in her corner from the beginning. Not without faults, her stubbornness made for an interesting middle of the story. The ending is probably one of my favorite parts, all thanks to her.

 

If you're looking for a fun romance with a bit of angst and a happy ending, you should definitely grab this book.

Best box ever
Best box ever

Thanks to the lovely Bookish Blerd I got all this great stuff today. Just look at those book covers, I can't wait to see what magic they hold. Happy early birthday to me! I love when our book box exchange lands on my birthday week :-)

A year later...

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things - Jenny Lawson

So according to BL, I started reading this December 16, 2017. That means it took me 9 months to finish this wonderful book. Since Jenny Lawson discusses her struggle with depression and anxiety disorders at length (in the best, funniest way possible) I had to take several long breaks when my anxiety and depression were not putting me in the right head space to enjoy reading it. But really, this book is hilarious and just what I needed during these past two weeks of total chaos in my life. 

 

I am not exaggerating when I say my "vacation" was surrounded with nothing but Murphy's law. Car accident, cancelled concerts, delayed flights, stomach flu, etc, etc. All unrelated to this review, but whatever, I'll do what I want. Furiously Happy does remind us to laugh at the absurdity of our lives and most of all, to remember that the lows eventually get better. 

Review: Miss Behave

Miss Behave - Traci Highland

If you're in the mood for a light, funny book then you should pick up Miss Behave. The inclusion of Piper's advice column from the paper really made me choke on my drink a few times from laughing so hard. Highland does a wonderful job making Piper into a totally relateable and charming character.

 

This wonderful gem has a little bit of everything for you, family craziness, overbearing mothers, naked runs in the forest.... you won't want to miss a moment of Piper and Mr. Brookes chaos. Each new development in the story makes you laugh out loud and question your own sanity. Piper has a sarcastic wit that I would adore in a friend, and Mr. Brookes is a great match for her personality. Their banter and flirting is absolutely hilarious and swoon worthy.

 

I can't wait to read the next installment of the Anderson Family series. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy fun, romantic, sarcastic lead characters.

New Release Review!

How to Breathe Underwater - Vicky Skinner

 

There's a lot to unravel here, so bear with me. I'm still in awe of the profound emotional roller coaster I just experienced with this heartfelt story. Skinner has a way with words that elicits your emotions and keeps you engaged page after page.  
 
Kate is a fairly average teenager, save for one big exception, she's the best swimmer in the state. With her dad as her coach constantly pushing her to do more, be better, work harder, etc. there's a lot of emotional baggage tied into her sport. When Kate's life turns upside down after her dad's affair becomes public, it's more than just a relocation. It is the first time Kate really questions whether she wants to keep swimming now that she's not striving for her father's attention.
 
I imagine switching schools after growing up with the same team is difficult in itself, then add the pressure of being "the best", any kid would have a hard time. Kate manages to navigate her new circumstances with less than stellar grace and a few bad choices to makes things more challenging. Crushing on the boy next door is adorable and sweet, but navigating through an existing girlfriend and trying to make new friends does not make it easy. 
 
Kate's struggles with her new family life are an integral part of the story. Divorce is a difficult topic to write about, but Skinner does an exceptional job keeping things just the right amount of heavy without feeling overwhelming. It was important that we see how the divorce is affecting Kate's mom and sister as well. The camaraderie of their shared heartache is a refreshingly honest look at the emotional toll divorce can have on a family. 
 
Michael and Kate's friendship is the bright light in an otherwise tumultuous world. There's one particular scene that stands out in my mind where they sit in the hallway across from each other in the middle of the night eating ice cream. That sweet moment of friendship made me wish I had a neighbor like that, especially as I suffered from insomnia in high school too. I found their story endearing and frustrating at the same time. It is a splendid story fraught with awkward moments, sweet gestures, and a fair amount of hardship. 
 
I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy a heartfelt look at what strengths lie in moving on and forgiveness. 

Review: Demon hunting teenagers, what could go wrong?

When Life Gives You Demons - Jennifer Honeybourn
Teenagers and exorcism, what could possibly go wrong? As if young Shelby doesn't have enough going on in her senior year of high school she is also learning to be an exorcist from  her uncle who is a priest. Learning Latin for fun sounds awesome /sarcasm.
 
As with most first jobs, Shelby is struggling with the responsibilities placed before her, especially when it requires her to miss her study sessions with her crush Spencer. Soon enough they will find out they have a lot more in common than they think, and Shelby will uncover a secret that makes her take her exorcism training much more seriously. 
 
While the story starts out light and full of teenage sarcasm, it quickly becomes an interesting exploration of demons and the power of exorcism/faith. Family ties and loyalty are an underlying theme woven into several relationships in the story. Shelby's quest to find her mother and her lackadaisical attitude towards her uncle are important throughout her journey into demon hunting.  
 
 I enjoyed every aspect of this gem of a story and would recommend this to readers who enjoy quirky young adult books. 

Review: Watching You

Watching You - Shannon Greenland (S. E. Green)

There is a lot to unravel about Viola's story and I hope to do it justice. We meet Viola as she is starting at a most prestigious school that she's worked tirelessly to attend. From the first interaction with Riel we know that there is a spark between them but it is quickly doused with cold water when Viola realizes Riel is her competition for the scholarship that allows her to attend the school.

 

As Viola settles in at her new school she has a strong sense of impostor syndrome. She hasn't lived the privileged life most of her classmates have and if they only knew where she came from she would never be accepted, or so she thinks. This particular piece of of the story is so important. The need to fit in, to feel like you belong, is so strong as you enter into adulthood. This is Viola's chance to change her life and she's willing to fight hard, study furiously, and try to ignore her budding feelings for a certain boy. 

 

I really loved falling in love with Riel. His character has so much depth and passion that it's impossible to ignore. Viola deserves a beautiful soul like Riel and their story was enthralling to read. Of course, as with most relationships, there are hurdles to overcome and trust to be earned, but I was rooting for them from the first meeting. 

 

My favorite part of suspense novels is trying to figure out who did it, before it's revealed in the story. I was not successful in this case, which makes me love this story even more. Viola's stalker was a mystery right up to the reveal. So hang on to your hats, cause you're in for a whirlwind. 

 

I'd recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good coming of age story with a lot of heart, and a great build of suspense.