Until it Fades

27408566.jpg Until it Fades by K.A. Tucker

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley.

Summary from Goodreads:

Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania: population two thousand outside of tourist season.
And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed attempt at a relationship, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has saved: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.
Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works.
For a time.
But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. What begins as an immediate friendship quickly turns into something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something that Catherine is afraid to trust.
Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

My thoughts:

Yet again, K.A. Tucker did not disappoint. I have loved every book I’ve read; in fact, the Ten Tiny Breaths series is one of my favorites ever. I enjoy the romance in these books, but they don’t feel like typical “romance” books either. The characters have much more depth and there’s just more of a story. I really liked Catherine as a character, wanting to be independent and not need others, but learning to accept help and find that she can forgive herself for her past. And Brett? Well, let’s just say I could use one of him in my life! I will be recommending this to friends.

My rating: 5/5

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One Perfect Lie

29939066 One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date is 4/11/17.

Summary from Goodreads:

On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.
But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.
Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.
Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin’s baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.
Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.
At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

My thoughts:

Lisa Scottoline never disappoints me. I really enjoy her family mystery/thrillers each time I read them. This one was no different. I have been ill (see previous post) and this is the first book I picked up and read in over 2 months and I finished it pretty quickly. I’m glad I chose this one to get me back into the swing of things. Anyway, Chris Brennan is a likable character even though you have no clue what he’s up to for quite some time. Sometimes, he seems evil and I almost didn’t forgive him for something that I thought he did (vague, I know, but can’t give away spoilers), but still likable regardless. I enjoyed the whole cast of characters, especially Jordan’s mother, Heather. She was a woman you wanted to root for for some reason. I went into the book not knowing any details and person and Scottoline kept me guessing throughout. I had no clue that certain people would be involved. It was pretty fast-paced, but highly detailed as well. I highly recommend to friends and family. I do buy these for my high school library as well, because a lot of our teachers enjoy my recommendation of this author.

My rating: 5/5

Small Great Things

28587957 Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 10/11/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.
With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

My thoughts:

First, I just HAD to read this and was so excited that Jodi Picoult was at BEA and I was able to get a copy signed by her. I did base my review on the e-ARC from Netgalley though, as I did not want to read the actual signed copy and damage it in any way. 🙂 Anyway, I am rarely disappointed by Jodi Picoult, and the synopsis to this drew me in…it is so timely! After reading only the first few chapters, I sat and thought about how brave Jodi was to write a book that was based on so much controversy. I really enjoyed reading her Author’s Note at the end to get insight into her thoughts and the process of writing this story. I certainly wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing so. I, like Jodi mentions, would never consider myself racist, but it seems sometimes that just being born as a white person makes you blind to what really goes on.

I really liked Ruth as a character and found myself trying to empathize with her, I can’t imagine being told I couldn’t do my job based simply on the color of my skin. Turk was loathsome, of course, and I truly hated him throughout the book, which was the whole point I know. I also found myself relating to Kennedy, wanting to help but then unsure how to exactly do so. I was impressed with her final discovery, as I would have never thought of it.

I gave this 4 stars simply because I felt it did drag on a little too long, some of it felt a bit repetitive I guess. I also felt like the ending was rushed and this might not make sense since I just said the book was too long, but I could have easily read another book based on the last few chapters of this one telling what happened years after the court case. I do highly recommend this book and will be purchasing it for my school library. I commend Jodi for writing about such a tough topic, which she does often, and doing so in such a great way!

My rating: 4/5

Holding Up the Universe (Part 2)

28671039 Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

**My opinions are based on an ARC of this book received from the publisher/author. It releases tomorrow, 10/4/16!

Read my initial thoughts about the book here.

Summary from Goodreads:

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. 
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

My thoughts:

Well, if you don’t know by now that I’m a huge fan of this author, Jennifer Niven, where have you been?! Here’s a reminder of the excitement on my face when meeting her:

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So, the new book is FINALLY coming out…yay! I can’t wait for lots and lots of people to get to read it. I still feel strongly like I did when I originally posted that this book is not offensive to fat people and I don’t know why some would think it is, unless they are just extremely unhappy with themselves and look for any way to be negative. I accept who I am, so why would reading about someone with some of the same struggles make me angry? If anything, it makes it more enjoyable to read. I have been talking this book up to my students, especially those that I know enjoyed All the Bright Places and I have let a few read the ARC. They have enjoyed this one as well and it made them feel really special to get to read a book that wasn’t out yet. 🙂 I feel like this will be another important book that everyone should read because I think we should all read books about people that are similar, as well as very different, from us. How else do we develop compassion and empathy?

Just a side note, I have recently been diagnosed with Raynaud’s Syndrome and my fingers hurt so bad, but I am fighting through that pain to type this because I wanted it out there. I feel like Jennifer Niven deserves recognition for her writing and for being such a kind, awesome person! Thank you for another great read, Jennifer. I can’t wait to get it in my library and into the hands of many readers.

My rating: 5/5

Stealing Snow

28260524.jpg Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

**This review is based on ARC from BEA and also from Netgalley, release date 9/20/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she’s not crazy and doesn’t belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.
Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn’t what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid–her true home–with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she’s sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything…including Snow’s return to the world she once knew.

My thoughts:

I really went back and forth on even writing this review, because it hurts my heart to say negative things about Danielle Paige’s writing. She is one of the sweetest authors I have interacted with, so please remember that I feel that way through this review. In fact, here is a picture of us to make it better (haha):

Now, I was super excited to pick this up at BEA, not only to meet Danielle, but to get to read it because I loved the Dorothy Must Die series. I read some negative reviews before starting, but chose to ignore them and give it my all as I usually do. I was pretty interested for the first several chapters, but then I kept finding my mind wandering. Still, I stuck with it and read, but just could not make myself be interested in what was going on or invested in the characters. I think I would have liked a little more background on Snow and a little more struggle with her trying to learn how to use her newly found magic abilities. I can’t help but think of the scenes from the Twilight series where Bella is learning to use her powers after becoming a vampire as an example of more of what I would have wanted. I’m not sure why it just didn’t sit well with me. I also didn’t care for any of the love interests (and yes there was more than one, even more than two actually) and didn’t find myself rooting for any of them to be the one for Snow. Overall, I just couldn’t stay focused and I feel like I missed a lot of details because I wasn’t paying attention. I don’t think I’ll investigate this series further, but that won’t stop me from purchasing it for my library and letting some students try it out. Maybe it just wasn’t my cup of tea, maybe I just liked Dorothy Must Die so much because I’ve always been a bit obsessed with Wizard of Oz…I’m just not sure. I wouldn’t discourage others from reading this one, I just wouldn’t pick it up again myself. Again, I love Danielle Paige, and I’m sorry that I didn’t love this particular book.

My rating: 2/5

Quick Review: Damaged

28203746 Damaged by Lisa Scottoline

My thoughts:

This is exactly what I have come to expect from a Lisa Scottoline book. I wasn’t sure about reading it because I have not read the others in this particular series (read almost everything else by her though!), but I found it was not necessary to have read the ones before this. I just love Lisa’s writing style and storytelling skills. I am not normally much of a mystery fan, but I always pick up her new titles immediately. I liked Mary as a character, and I particularly liked that this book focused on a special education case since I am in the education field also. It was a bit of a heart-breaking story; but, unfortunately, all too real and possible. I will highly recommend this book to my colleagues, most of which I have already gotten hooked on Lisa’s books.  Lisa has quickly become one of my favorite, go-to authors over the past 2 years.

My rating: 5/5

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 8/16/16.

First Comes Love

26192467 First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley and from BEA, release date 6/28/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.
Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.
On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.
As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.

My thoughts:
I have read all of Emily Giffin’s books, except the one right before this (going back to it as soon as I get a chance though), and have always enjoyed her writing. I got the chance to meet Emily and get this book signed while at BEA in Chicago, so I was super excited to read and review it.

I really liked this book and found myself excited to get back to it each evening before bed. I found myself really relating to Josie, since I started out as an elementary teacher (before moving to the high school level) and am still single, though not actively searching/needing a man like she thought she did. I have a very similar personality as well, so I found her chapters especially enjoyable. Emily also did her research on teaching (or maybe she has a background I’m not aware of!) and was accurate about the life of a teacher. I also found the dynamic among the two sisters quite entertaining, though Meredith was highly unlikeable for me (because I am pretty much her opposite, like Josie). It is always interesting to read about two sisters so different, as this is certainly the case in real life with my sister and me. Not that my sister is like Meredith either, we are just extremely different from one another.

Meredith is the more uptight, boring sister in this particular story…she has the life that Josie thinks she wants, but she is not happy with it herself. Throughout the book, she is trying to figure out where she went wrong and how she can be happy in the future. It is certainly a struggle, as she knows she has it good in the eyes of most other people. Josie struggles throughout the story for Meredith’s approval, while they both are trying to figure out how to move on from a tragedy that happened 15 years ago.

If you don’t like books with alternating viewpoints, you may not like this format, but I tend to like this style; since a lot of Young Adult books that I read are that way, I have become accustomed to it. I would say that it’s safe to say this is my favorite Emily Giffin book thus far and I have already recommended it to my own sister and mom, and I will be telling friends about it also. If you are looking for a great summer read, and if you enjoy a family story, then pick this one up for sure! I am hoping maybe we will get to read more about these sisters in future books. 🙂

My rating: 5/5