Friday, October 31, 2014

A Robertson Family Christmas {by Kay Robertson}

Title: A Robertson Family Christmas
Author: Miss Kay Robertson with Travis Thrasher
Genre: Christian fiction, holiday fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via publisher

A nationwide contest gives a needy child the opportunity to spend Christmas with the Robertsons. A junior high kid from a poor family wins, and all things look wonderful--except for the fact that the boy is a complete terror. But he'll have to learn the hard way after the Robertsons get through with him.A heartwarming and hilarious story on the meaning of Christmas and what it's like to spend it with the Robertsons of Duck Commander.

This was...interesting. I say this because it was a fictional story about nonfictional characters. Now, I've mentioned that I've never seen Duck Dynasty, but I was still able to enjoy this book. It was full of humor and heart.

In a way, was this just a grandmother bragging on her children and grandchildren? And I'm not saying that's a bad thing. But let's face it, when you keep saying all these things about how wonderful everyone is, well, you're their grandmother. You know them better than almost anyone. But that's also what made this fun to read, is that Miss Kay knows them and she knows what they're like behind the scenes, and she knows their humor.

This book made me laugh a lot. Seriously. The whole clan is so funny, and at times I forgot I was reading a fictional story. But it also gave an inside look to the family, and their holiday traditions, which was fun. (And a LOT. Oh my goodness, they have so many.) But this book was also heartfelt. The fictional part of it was about Hunter, a boy who comes to spend Christmas with the Robertsons and learn about their traditions.

The book isn't preachy, but speaks the simple truths that the Robertsons are famous for believing in. It's such a natural part of them. I do think that there are some things that might make more sense if you did watch the show, but nothing you couldn't understand if you've never seen it (like me). It made me feel like I got to know some of the Robertsons better. It was just an all-around fun and entertaining short story.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Thanks to Tyndale, who provided a copy for me to give away! One winner will win a hardcover of A Robertson Family Christmas by Kay Robertson!
US only // Must be at least 13 years old or have parental permission // All entries WILL be checked, false entries will be disqualified // Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be chosen // I am not responsible for lost packages 

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Princess Spy {by Melanie Dickerson}
Title: The Princess Spy
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Series: Hagenheim #5
Genre: Christian fiction, romance, YA, fairytale retelling
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received from publisher

Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha---one of the few who speaks his language---understands the wild story. Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin's message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself 'Lord Colin' is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy---not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she's sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook's wicked plot.

Guys, I FLEW through this one. The day I got it, I sat down and read it straight through. I can't even remember the last time I did that. I mean, I loooove my fairytale retellings. I actually couldn't tell what this one was from the description, but it hit me while reading. Yes, ladies and possible gents, this is a retelling of...The Frog Prince.

Margaretha is the daughter of a duke, and lives a pretty naive and sheltered life. She is a romantic at heart, having rejected all of her suitors so far. But she is considering her current suitor, Lord Claybrook, even though she secretly desires a loving relationship. That is, until her world is thrown in disarray by the arrival of an injured Englishman. Margaretha is the only one who can speak his language, but the man seems addled. He tells her that Lord Claybrook is not who he seems, and asks her to spy on him. Which Margaretha does, to find out that the stranger is telling the truth. And it is up to Margaretha and Colin to save her family and the entire town.

Margaretha's worst fault is that she talks alot. And she mentions this quite a bit. But she was easy to like. She was sweet and kind, if a bit naive. But as soon as she finds out that her family is in danger, her first and only thought is how to save them with no regard to herself. She was pretty selfless and brave. She spoke her mind and was pretty humorous. Colin himself was easy to like. Although a bit pigheaded, he really did care about these people that he had hardly met, and put himself in danger for them. He was adorable.

This was pretty fast-paced. Like I said, I flew through it. There were not parts where the story lagged, or nothing seemed to be happening. It flowed naturally. The descriptions of the world and the castles were detailed and beautiful. I mean, I'm not entirely sure what things were like back then, but the author seemed to do a pretty good job of describing them so you could actually imagine what it was like. Also, the language barrier between Colin and everyone else was made clear. There wasn't any confusion about who was speaking what language, or what was going on.

And thankfully, no insta-love. I loved how Margaretha and Colin slowly became allies, then friends, and then realized they loved each other. Was it still a bit fast? Yeah, they knew each other for barely weeks. But I was still rooting for them.

This was a beautiful story, one that I thought was so well done. While I need to brush up on my knowledge of The Frog Prince to see how it actually matches up to the story, I thought this was a great story.

My review of The Merchant's Daughter here

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Melanie Dickerson:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Live Original {by Sadie Robertson}

Title: Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps it Real and Stays True to Her Values
Author: Sadie Robertson with Beth Clark
Genre: Christian, nonfiction, memoir
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via publisher

Seventeen-year-old Sadie Robertson, star of A&E's Duck Dynasty and daughter of Willie and Korie Robertson, shares her outlook on life as she opens up about herself and the values that make her family what it is.Sadie Robertson represents everything that a well-adjusted teenager should be, even while growing up in the spotlight on Duck Dynasty. She exhibits poise, respect for her family and friends, and a faith that influences her choices. Everyone wants to know how a family as eclectic as the Robertsons are raising such confident, fun, family-loving kids. With this book, Sadie sheds light on the values instilled by her family that make her the person she is.Sadie lives by a simple list of principles that lead her to personal and spiritual growth and allow the relationships she has with her friends and family to flourish. These values include think happy, be happy; dream big; shake the hate; do something; and many more.Living as a culturally relevant teen who loves God and her family, Sadie has become a role model for other teens and for parents who are eager to instill the same characteristics in their children.

Now, I will admit that I don't watch Duck Dynasty. But this family does intrigue me, and when I saw that one of the kids was coming out with a book, I was interested. I do follow Sadie on Twitter, and watch her on Dancing with the Stars. I don't know, the kids just interest me more than the adults. But this was a fresh perspective in a world where teens are finding more and more bad role models. Maybe I was just curious about how someone so young could be so well-adjusted. But Sadie really is the real deal.

In yesterday's US Weekly article about Sadie, they had a chart comparing her to Kendall Jenner. While I don't believe in comparisons, this does go to show you what a positive influence Sadie is. Sadie knows that people are going to be looking up to her, and also be looking for her to slip-up, and this shines forth in her words. Sadie's had her share of trials, but she keeps her head up. While some might think it isn't possible for someone to seem so... happy and unbothered, Sadie lets God and her faith shine through.

The writing seemed a bit simple, although she's only 17. But the words were genuine and heartfelt. Sadie talks about issues that all girls/teens go through, but she doesn't do so in a preachy way. She talks straight from the heart. But she also does so with humor. I enjoyed the personal anecdotes and learning more about the other Duck Dynasty stars.

Even though she's younger than me, I think Sadie is a great role model, and this shows in the book. She speaks genuinely, from her heart, and with faith. I think this is a book that all teen girls need to read. In fact, I've already given it to my sister, and I believe that so much that... I'm giving one away! Keep scrolling!

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Sadie Robertson:

One winner will win a hardcover of Live Original by Sadie Robertson!
US only // Must be at least 13 years old or have parental permission // All entries WILL be checked, false entries will be disqualified // Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be chosen // I am not responsible for lost packages 

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Monday, October 27, 2014

A Bollywood Affair {by Sonali Dev}

Title: A Bollywood Affair
Author: Sonali Dev
Series: Bollywood #1
Genre: Adult fiction, contemporary romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via NetGalley

Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years—not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be—if her husband would just come and claim her.Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naΓ―ve village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. Open-hearted yet complex, she’s trying to reconcile her independence with cherished traditions. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life—cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.Heartfelt, witty, and thoroughly engaging, Sonali Dev’s debut is both a vivid exploration of modern India and a deeply honest story of love, in all its diversity. 

Did I basically pick up this book because I saw Bollywood and that it was a book about Indians? Yep. Did it disappoint? Not at all (thankfully). This was a fresh and captivating, full of culture, and I loved it.

Mili was married at the age of 4, and hasn't seen her "husband" for twenty years. She longs for the day when he will come and claim her. She's already dreamed of the life they will have, even claiming to love him, and is doing everything to make herself into the perfect modern wife. Unbeknownst to her, her husband has married another woman, thinking that his first marriage was annulled many years ago, after child marriages were declared illegal in India. Except, his wasn't. His player of a brother, Samir, is sent to America to find Mili and force her to sign the divorce papers. 

I liked both of the main characters in this one. Mili is timid, just wanting to get through school and waiting for her husband to claim her so that she and her grandmother can live a good life. Choosing to go to America and go to school was a bold choice. The girl barely had any food to eat, and yet she was so intent on this. Some might say that she was very narrow-minded, only focusing on her husband coming to claim her, but that's all that she has had drilled into her for twenty years. I think she definitely goes through some growth and change, coming into herself and learning what she wants and not everyone else.

Samir definitely had a lot of sides to him. He definitely has his demons, due to his mother and grandfather, and he does allow them to rule his life. Never getting close to anyone, nothing more than flings here and there. Except for his family, of course. But he lets us see a different side of him when he's with Mili, and he was definitely swoony. I mean, the man cooks. I have nothing to say about the supporting cast, though, because let's face it: I didn't really like any of them.

There was never really a point when I was bored. It did take me a bit to get into it at the beginning, but from then on I was hooked. It was a wonderfully weaved story that enthralled me. There is a juxtaposition between Mili's naive views on love, and Sam's cynical ones, and I think they definitely put forth some questions to think about. It was a very deep story, but not in a serious-ruins-all-the-fun sense. It was a great story, as well.

And, of course, the culture. I loved it. But I also loved how the author brought in different parts of India as well. One of them even says something along the lines of how their Indias were so different, even though it's all the same country. And I liked how she showed that. From Mili being a small village girl, to Samir's big city self, even to her North Indian roommate marrying a South Indian and the differences/why it was such a big deal. And come on guys, the food. So much food. I was definitely hungry.

This was a beautiful story, one that I loved for both its characters and its culture. It was deep, moving, and just all-around intriguing. 

I do want to say that, being an adult book, it does have more mature scenes and more language than the books I usually review on this blog. Just a heads up, if that's not the kind of thing you're looking for.

 Bollywood #1Bollywood #2 Bollywood #3

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Sonali Dev:

Friday, October 24, 2014

A.D. 30 {by Ted Dekker}

Title: A.D. 30
Author: Ted Dekker
Genre: Christian fiction, historical fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received from publisher

A sweeping epic set in the harsh deserts of Arabia and ancient Palestine.
A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.
The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all.
Step back in time to the year of our Lord...A.D. 30.
The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father's warriors--Saba who speaks more with is sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars. Their journey will be fraught with terrible danger. If they can survive the vast forbidding sands of a desert that is deadly to most, they will reach a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews.
But Maviah's path leads her unexpectedly to another man. An enigmatic teacher who speaks of a way in this life which offers greater power than any kingdom. His name is Yeshua, and his words turn everything known on its head. Though following him may present even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people--and herself.

Ahh more Ted Dekker! This book was vastly different from anything else Ted Dekker has written, so I was excited to see how it turned out. You guys know how much I love my Biblical fiction, so I couldn't wait to see how my favorite Christian fiction author did with it. And it was amazing.

The first thing that struck me was how well researched this was. To know the culture and customs of Maviah's Arabian tribe, as well as the Jews and the Romans, it's a lot to know. Yet it the differences between the different groups of people were so clear. I have always admired the amount of detail Dekker puts in his stories, making you really understand and feel what it's like. From the buildings to the people to the road, everything is described so well that you aren't confused. There was a lot of traveling in this book, but Dekker made sure that each place was different enough.

Maviah was an interesting character. She was born the illegitimate daughter of the sheikh, sold in slavery, and was sent back home with a illegitimate son. All things to bring even more shame in a time when just being born a woman is shameful. But through it all, she is strong. Sure, there are moments when she doesn't think so, but I admired her. She was born in a time when women were oppressed, and although she was outspoken and more vocal than other women, she also knew when to step back and act submissive. She was smart, and cunning, and made for an interesting character.

I will say, the other characters weren't too memorable. All the kings and queens seemed the same. Repeats of the same characters, almost. The politics that were involved did confuse me some, and I found myself skimming when it came to parts like that. Saba and Judah were more fleshed out, but I would have liked to see more from them. I will say, I like how he didn't try to "mortalize" Jesus. The words that He said were always direct quotes from the Scripture, which was interesting, but also kept Him true.

The book does focus quite a bit on Jesus's teachings and the Scriptures. Judah is a Jew who wants nothing more than to meet his Yeshua. Meviah is a Gentile, "unclean" by the Jewish standards. Yet, Jesus came for the Jews and the Gentiles, and this really illustrated the differences in how His teachings were perceived by the different groups. Dekker brings a lot to think about, and points out Scriptures in new ways that will make you think about them and how you are really applying them to your life.

This was a fascinating book. It was fast-paced and such an interesting story. But although fictional, it was also filled with eye-opening truths. It was a great read, one that I would definitely recommend.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Ted Dekker:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stitching Snow {by R.C. Lewis}

Title: Stitching Snow
Author: R.C. Lewis
Genre: YA, fantasy, sci-fi, retelling
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via NetGalley

Princess Snow is missing.
Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back-but that's assuming she wants to return at all.
Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.
When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane's arrival was far from accidental, and she's pulled into the heart of a war she's risked everything to avoid.
In her enthralling debut, R.C. Lewis weaves the tale of a princess on the run from painful secrets . . . and a poisonous queen. With the galaxy's future-and her own-in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

Can we take a moment to appreciate that cover? It's so intricate and gorgeous and I need a physical copy, like, pronto. Moving on... I loved this book as well. It was unique and inventive and interesting. Although it does share some characteristics as the original Snow White story, such as a princess named Snow, an evil stepmother, and a poisoned apple, it was still wholly original.

Essie was an interesting character. She lives in the mining village, spending her time in her lab coding and working on the drones, and cage fighting. She doesn't like to get too close to people. Until Dane crash lands near her home. For some reason, she wants to help him. I liked how strong she was, but also had room to grow. I think she went through considerable growth throughout the story.

As for Dane, not sure how I felt. I liked him, but I wasn't particularly swooned by him. Although I could understand some of his decisions, at the same time I was wary of him. And while he did prove himself to be sweet and kind and really, just perfect for Essie, I don't know. He was just okay.

There were parts in the plot that bored. Lots of kidnapping and flying around. The interplanetary system confused me a little bit, as I was never really sure of how it all worked or the politics of it. There were definitely some predictable moments, but it all worked out in the end. I thought the technical side of it was interesting, and brought another dimension to the world building.

Not going to lie, Dimwit and the rest of the drones were probably my favorite part. (Seven drones... seven dwarfs... get it?) They were so cute! (Cusser would probably have my head for that.)

This wasn't a perfect book by any means, but it was interesting. It definitely hooked me. While there was some room for improvement, I think this was a great book and will definitely be waiting for more of this author's work.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

R.C. Lewis

Website | Facebook | Twitter | tumblr | Goodreads

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

{Cover Reveal} Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler

Hey guys! I feel like it's been a while since I helped reveal a cover on the blog. Anyway, today, I am so excited to help reveal the cover for Dahlia Adler's debut NA, Last Will and Testament. Dahlia is super awesome, and this book sounds amazing, so keep scrolling to see the cover!

Keep going...
Just a little farther...
Here it is!
Title: Last Will and Testament
Author: Dahlia Adler
Series: Radleigh University, #1
Expected Publication: December 9, 2014

Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she's acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she'll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn't exactly Lizzie's biggest fan.
But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you're ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks... and that she'd like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he's not the kind of guy who'd ever reciprocate.
Until he does.
Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.
Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

the author:

Dahlia Adler:

Dahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and a YA/NA author and blogger at every spare moment in between. More often than not, you can find her on Twitter as @MissDahlELama, and if you tweet her pictures of macarons, she just might fall in love with you. She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Damsel Distressed {by Kelsey Macke}

Title: Damsel Distressed
Author: Kelsey Macke
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via NetGalley

Hot girls get the fairy tales. No one cares about the stepsisters' story. Those girls don't get a sweet little ending; they get a lifetime of longing
Imogen Keegen has never had a happily ever after–in fact, she doesn’t think they are possible. Ever since her mother’s death seven years ago, Imogen has pulled herself in and out of therapy, struggled with an “emotionally disturbed” special ed. label, and loathed her perma-plus-sized status.
When Imogen’s new stepsister, the evil and gorgeous Ella Cinder, moves in down the hall, Imogen begins losing grip on the pieces she’s been trying to hold together. The only things that gave her solace–the theatre, cheese fries, and her best friend, Grant–aren’t enough to save her from her pain this time.
While Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical, the journal pages containing her darkest thoughts get put on display. Now, Imogen must resign herself to be crushed under the ever-increasing weight of her pain, or finally accept the starring role in her own life story.
And maybe even find herself a happily ever after.

I loved this book. It was so beautiful, and truthful, and realistic, and so easy to relate to. But it also kept its fun and romance and sweetness. This was a stunning book, made even more so by the intertwining of different media forms. Now, I didn't have internet access while reading most of the book (booo) so I couldn't see the artwork/listen to the music while reading, and doing it afterwards didn't give the same impact (although it was still amazing). (And can we talk about that STUNNING cover??)

Imogen has been given many labels: emotionally disturbed, special Ed, fat, etc. And it really harms Imogen's emotional and mental state. She depends on her best friend, Grant, to help her keep it together. And she's been doing better. But it all goes downhill when her stepsister, Ella Cinder, moves in.

Now, I think most of us have never had it as bad as Imogen, necessarily, but I think all girls can relate at some level. We've all felt the same way, had the same thoughts running through our minds. I know, personally, I've felt that black hole of despair before, and Macke captures it perfectly. Also, Imogen's thoughts on being overweight were spot on, and so realistic. (I, too, know.)

I also love the way she incorporated fine arts into the book. I think the stage crew gets overlooked quite often, but they are amazing. (I did pit orchestra for our school musicals, as well as our regular concerts and assemblies and know just how hard they work. Go techs!) Imogen is content with just fading in the background, but when the time comes for her to take the spotlight, will years of insecurity and depression allow her to? I loved the growth that Imogen goes through in this story, as it is so true for all of us, at least on some level.

And Grant. Um, swoon. How he was there for Imogen, even when she couldn't see it or appreciate it. It's hard to see someone you care about go through that. Although it might seem like it only affects the one person, it really affects everyone around them. But still, he stuck with her. You don't see that everyday. I loved the rest of the supporting characters as well--Brice, Jonathan, Antonique. They were all so much fun, and brought some light humor into the story to help balance it out.

I hardly ever highlight or mark things when I read, but I found myself highlight quite a bit while reading this. And I see no other way to end than with one of my favorite quotes, courtesy of Therapist George:
The end of your story hasn't been written yet. You've got lots and lots of chapters left.
This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Kelsey Macke:

Website | Facebook | tumblr | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Pinterest | Flickr | YouTube | SoundCloud | Goodreads

Monday, October 20, 2014

Not in the Script {by Amy Finnegan}
Title: Not in the Script
Author: Amy Finnegan
Series: If Only...#3
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via NetGalley

Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending nearly all of her teen years performing on cue, Emma wonders if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her relationships.
Jake Elliott’s face is on magazine ads around the world, but his lucrative modeling deals were a poor substitute for what he had to leave behind. Now acting is offering Jake everything he wants: close proximity to home; an opportunity to finally start school; and plenty of time with the smart and irresistible Emma Taylor . . . if she would just give him a chance.
When Jake takes Emma behind the scenes of his real life, she begins to see how genuine he is, but on-set relationships always end badly. Don’t they? Toss in Hollywood’s most notorious heartthrob and a resident diva who may or may not be as evil as she seems, and the production of Coyote Hills heats up in unexpected—and romantic—ways.
This novel in the deliciously fun If Only romance line proves that the best kinds of love stories don’t follow a script.

Ahh guys I loved this one so much. Seriously. I think I've found my new favorite book boyfriend. 
Told you. This book was so much fun. It was cute, and swoony, and flirty, and just gave me all the feels. And I loved every moment of it.
Emma Taylor is a teen actress. She left her home in Arkansas to follow her dream and fame to Hollywood, where she has been pretty successful. Her newest gig? Coyote Hills. Jake Elliot is a model. Known mostly for his shirtless ads, Jake has decided to try something new in acting. His first gig? Coyote Hills. (Do you see where I'm going with this?)

I loved Emma. She has dealt with the fame pretty well, not letting it get through her head, even with her being alone most of the time, since her parents have to take care of her two younger brothers. Except, all of her relationships have been pretty terrible, causing her to swear off relationships with costars. Emma is a pretty strong and level-headed character. But she does grow throughout the story, and I loved seeing that. I loved seeing her come into her own, and who she wants to be, without the influence of a boyfriend, or friends, or even her mother.

And Jake. Let's talk about Jake.
We are not just talking about a hot guy here. Jake was super sweet. I loved his interactions with his mother and how she was a big part of his life, and that he was man enough to admit that. I loved seeing him interact with his friends from back home, and with Emma. How he agreed to go on a date with Emma's best friend, Rachel, even though we all knew by then how he really felt about Emma. Jake was just thrown into this Hollywood world, but he handled it with grace and maturity. And he was just hilarious, honestly. Seriously, so perfect.
But this story wasn't just about the romance. It was about so much more. The life lessons that we learn, watching Emma and Jake struggle through whatever this is that they're feeling. (I will say, there were many a time when I just wanted to push the two together and scream "KISS ALREADY".) The behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood and the industry. Watching all of the cast interact with each other, seeing them all grow (or not). 

But most of all, this book made me laugh. Oh my goodness, did this book made me laugh. I loooved the banter between Jake and Emma, between the other characters. I loved the writing, and how it drew me in to the story, and kept me there with its wit and humor. 

This might be chick-lit, but it was so much more than that. Yes, it was cute and fluffy, but it was also sweet and swoony and all around hilarious. I loved it, and I would definitely recommend it. To anyone. I don't even care who you are. (Just, be warned: Jake is MINE. Back off.)

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Amy Finnegan:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

By Sun and Candlelight {by Jessica L. Brooks}

Title: By Sun and Candlelight [novella]
Author: Jessica L. Brooks
Series: Flora, #1.5
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received from author

A threat, a missing book, a traitor, and an attack. Even when you choose the light, things aren't always so black and white when they involve matters of the heart.
Rowan has some decisions to make.
Told in Rowan’s point of view, By Sun and Candlelight (Flora, 1.5) gives you a new view into the characters and daily happenings at Castle Lennox and bridges the gap between If I Speak True (Flora, 1) and Open Thy Heart (Flora, 2)

Check out my review of If I Speak True here and Open Thy Heart here.

Rowannnn! (And by that we all know I mean Briscooooe!) I thought this was a great little novella, told from Rowan's point of view, that really added to the story happening in this series. Now, it doesn't have to be read in order to still understand what happens in the books, but it was nice.

I'm very glad that this was from Rowan's POV, since he is still such a mysterious character. We get to see what he is thinking, how he feels. Rowan is nearly of age, and the heir to the throne. That comes with a lot of responsibilities.

It was nice to see Ambrosia and all its workings from someone who grew up there, as opposed do an outsider (sorry, Dahlia). We get to see how Rowan feels about it, how he is learning to step up to being the leader that his people expect him to be. Although the events that happened are rehashed in Open Thy Heart for Dahlia's benefit, as to not miss out on any plot happenings, it was nice to read the first person account of what actually happened.

And Clementine! Aww. (You have to actually read the story to find out about this.) And yes, more Rowan means more Briscoe ;) (Am I the only one who cares?)

This novella was a sweet little story that gives a deeper insight to Ambrosia and the characters there, especially Rowan. While you don't have to read it, I would definitely recommend it.

Jessica L. Brooks

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