Thursday, July 24, 2014

Take Me With You written by Melyssa Winchester (296 pgs) – finished 7/23/14 – NEW ADULT

Simply magnificent! One of the best books I read so far this year!

12:30am - I seriously have to think about what to write for this book. Such an emotional roller-coaster...

***Warning – Abusive Sexual Situations and Self-Harm Present Within Book***

Amy is nasty. She’s such a hardened bitch. Bully extraordinaire. All the special education kids in her high school are afraid of her. And, when she takes the abuse too far and is expelled, she finds herself having to see a therapist. “There’s no way in hell that she is going to talk to the guy and tell him her deep dark secrets!” And, the secrets that she has are doozies! My heart just couldn’t help but break for her. Sure, she’s mean and everyone’s worst nightmare, but the nightmare that she has been living with since the age of four, is horrific and sorrowful. I just don’t know what to say when reading such a heartbreaking story. The tears just flowed. I’m pretty much speechless. But, there is a silver lining to this story. The author introduces a beautiful boy to save her. To look past all her faults and find the good. The real person inside. The beautiful person just dying to be born once again. And, what Eric brings out in Amy is monumental. It gives her a chance to redeem herself and finally believe in herself. In fact, she might even like herself. But, what does Amy do for Eric when she knows that he is so different from her? She gives him confidence. Eric is shy and quiet. Always trying to keep on the down-low so that he doesn’t get picked on in school. The more and more time that these two spend together, the more that they believe that they are meant to be together. When Amy does return to school after her expulsion is lifted, however, what ramifications will the two now face when their newly embraced relationship is found out? I don’t want to give much more away of the story. I just want the reader to experience the rest on their own. It was just so sad, but yet uplifting.

Amy was an extremely strong character. Her strength came from blocking out the evilness of her home life. She never knew happiness before she met Eric. And, Eric was supportive and protective. He was just such a nice guy. He saw beyond Amy’s despicable behavior, and gave her a chance to reform her past mistakes. It was cute how they talked about the smell of each other. Who knew that peanut butter and bubblegum could be an aphrodisiac?? The reader will get glimpses of past characters from Ms. Winchester’s other published books “Count On Me” and “Hear Me Now”. These are all standalone books, but I would still read them in published order so you wouldn’t be confused as to what the other characters have experienced. It sheds light on friendships and relationships that have already occurred. Ms. Winchester’s ability to yet again portray believable and authentic characters with learning disabilities was flawless. I just felt the pain and suffering that these individuals went through. And, also the constant abuse that Amy endured was portrayed as unfeeling and just so heinous. It was extremely hard to read. But, in the end two people found solice in each other. Found a true beginning to acceptability and happiness. Found peace...  

“You’re my perfect storm. You’re the lightning that makes my sky brighter every single time we’re together and you’re thunder because whenever we’re together and you kiss me, laugh at my corny jokes or smile, it makes my heart beat so loud and so fast that it’s the only sound I can hear . It’s the only sound I want to hear.”  ~ Eric (Chap. 18)

“What does the rain mean to you? The rain is like the water. It cleanses you. Do you remember what you said about the phoenix a couple weeks ago?”


“Right. So when it’s reborn, everything in the past is washed away and it has a chance to start over. You’re the rain, Eric.”  ~ Amy (Chap. 19)

I was wrong before. A storm isn’t made up of just one or two parts. It’s a bunch of different parts that come together and create the natural enigma that it becomes as it makes its way through the sky. The both of us, we’re individual parts on our own. She’s the thunder and lightning and I’m the rain. It’s only when we come together that it’s right. We become the perfect storm. ~ Eric narrating (Epilogue)

“Eric is so much more than a person with a diagnosis to me. He’s the person that taught me what a true friend is, what love looks and feels like. He’s the person that taught me what change, acceptance and understanding really are.”  ~ Amy (Epilogue)



Puddle Jumping written by Amber S. Johnson (126 pgs) – finished 7/21/14 – 4 stars - YOUNG ADULT

Such a beautiful story. Poignant. Surreal. With such heart and soul. The words are magical. The thoughts are mystical. And, the artistry behind the story was just so mesmerizing. This is my second read by Amber L. Johnson, and it won't be my last. She writes a book that focuses on two main characters that meet again after a few years apart. Two individuals neither forgetting the other, but going about their own lives. Lilly was a funny girl. Humorously accident-prone. A loyal and caring friend. And, Colton, well he's different. Special. Extraordinary in his way. And, when Lilly bumps into Colton at the start of their senior year in high school, she can't help but be smitten with him. He's older, more attractive, and she just wants to get to know him better. Colton is evasive, showing little if any eye-contact. He doesn't really comprehend what she's getting at. All his reactions are literal. Taken word-for-word. And, Lilly knows that he's different. But, just what does that mean? As Lilly and Colton's friendship progresses into so much more, what hurdles must they overcome to have a chance together? And, will all the understanding and compassion in the world be enough?

I couldn't help but be swept away by the images that Ms. Johnson painted with her remarkable depiction of a teenager living with Asperger's Syndrome. It seemed truly honest. Heartfelt and kind. And, undeniably real. She did a beautiful job portraying not just the individual living with the diagnosis, but also her portrayal of an outsider trying to understand the disability was believeable.

So I don’t think it came as a surprise to anyone that being with my boyfriend had made me see things in a new light. I never would have known the type of person that I could be without having met him. If I had it in me to make a difference in one person’s life, why not others? Maybe one day I’d teach my own PEERS class and some cute boy would lean against the wall in a hallway and tell the girl that loves him, ‘Whatever’ ~ Amber (Chap. 11)

It's not easy for a peer  who has no experience with this condition to jump right in and be friends with the person. It's a delicate matter. It takes patience and sensitivity to their situation. And, Lilly showed that over and over again towards Colton. It brought tears to my eyes. This is a relatively short book, so I was finished by the end of the day. But, I was also just so engrossed in Lilly and Colton's beautiful love story that I couldn't put it down. Not a book to be missed!!

I don’t believe there’s such a thing as conventional love. Love is bending. Love is breaking. Love is constantly learning about the other person until you go crazy because it will never be perfect, but there’s no fault in trying. ~ Amber (Chap. 17)

And, oh my, such a gorgeous cover that just fits perfectly!


Until Alex written by J. Nathan (311 pgs) – finished 7/20/14 – 5 stars - NEW ADULT

Fantastic debut by new author J. Nathan! This novel full of romance, heartbreak, and drama brings together two wounded individuals that just speak sadness. Both are young and full of life but seemingly lost amongst the reality of circumstances gone wrong. Alex finding herself now living with an unfamiliar aunt after a tragedy consumes her family. And, Hayden, who is drowning in guilt and loyalty from choices made concerning his life of recklessness and wrongdoing. When the two meet, it's with sarcasm and humor that get the pair off on the right foot, but when feelings start getting in the way, will these two be able to share a common ground and "draw-a-line in the sand" when it comes to revealing truths and trusting each other?

Both characters were extremely likable! The author expressed their POV's in alternating voices. Alex was stronger than she gave herself credit for. She could definitely hold her own when put to the test, which just made her more of a survivor in Hayden's eyes. Plus she was beautiful and smart and had a sense of humor too. Now, Hayden, he was gorgeous. Dark hair, blue eyes, and a sculpted body that just rippled with "YUM". He was damaged from a destructive past, and the present life he had chosen was not much better. But, Alex comes along and he now has a purpose to want to change for the better. She just gave him so much hope that he was worthy of changing his life's path. Two decent individuals that just got lost along the way while trying to live their lives the best way they knew how. They were a perfect fit, and together they would conquer their demons completely.

I really enjoyed Alex and Hayden's story - reading it late into the night. I kept saying to myself "okay, one more chapter, uuummmm....just one more chapter" that was until 2am. Finally deciding, "okay, I have to go to sleep NOW". It was that engrossing! It's so refreshing to read a standalone that is not part of a series! You will not be disappointed by the first-time effort of Ms. Nathan. Definitely a keeper!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Reading is mentally beneficial...

Whether you read for enjoyment, information, or relaxation, the stimulation of words can profoundly intrigue the mind ~

Text (Take It Off #4) written by Cambria Hebert (227 pgs) – finished 12/4/13 – 5 stars

Oh, Nathan, Nathan, Nathan – you’re such a hottie! A “warrior” just like the character, Honor, in Cambria Hebert’s Take It Off series puts it. Loyal. Protective. Respectable. And, sexy as all hell, when springing into action to help kidnap victim, Honor Calhoun. Nathan Reed is a Staff Sargeant in the United States Marines. He’s known loss and tragedy before, and when he gets an alarming text from an unknown individual, he can’t help but do the right thing – try and rescue her! Honor went for a run to melt away some stress and get in the mood to continue writing her romantic trysts between love-induced heroines and their sexy heroes. But, when running along the trail that is not far from her home, she is brutally attacked and kidnapped by a madman. This is the start of fifteen hours of horror, brutality, and the sense of not knowing if she will survive the horrific ordeal. Will she get rescued? And, what price will she have to pay when the lunactic that kidnapped her is still on the run after alluding capture? And, the bitch of it all, is that the lunatic is one of Nathan’s own – a marine!

The emotions were all over the place. Tragic and sad, but happy because of the newly discovered love between a pair of respectable and compassionate individuals. Both looking for acceptance and a way just to be needed and loved. Nathan’s character was sorely damaged from a previous tragedy, but loving Honor gave him hope and a better understanding of how to separate and move on from the atrocities of war. And, Honor, was strong and smart. She tried to think logically when she knew time was running out if she wanted to get out of her dire situation alive. She also put her trust in Nathan, which only sealed the deal that she was wildly attracted to him and his unfathomable desire of protection and commitment.

“Baby, I would go anywhere for you. I would drop everything and come running”. ~ Nathan (Chap. 29)

Nathan was a survivor, and he was loyal to the point of almost obsessiveness. He would always be there for the ones he loved and, being in the military, only solidified his true beliefs in respect, loyalty, and honesty. He was a special man – especially to Honor who needed to be rescued from a violent and tragic crime, which no woman should ever have to face.

“Nathan was real. He wasn’t perfect. He was a man who had seem many hardships, a man who faced death and war. He was scarred (inside and out), and he would always battle with some sort of inner demons.

It’s what made him so remarkable. There were some people like him that might collapse under the weight of all they carried. But he didn’t. Yeah, I could see in his eyes and hear in his voice there were times he stumbled, but he kept getting up.

I didn’t want a knight in shining armor. Knights with shining armor were posers. Everyone knew that the really good knights were the ones whose armor bore chinks and scratches from a battle they were strong enough to survive”. ~ Honor (Chap. 31)

Ms. Hebert writes a novel embroiled in suspense and romance. The action is riveting and the romance is hot. The villain’s attitude is spot-on with his obscene disrespect for woman and his uncaring mental state. Obviously his mind had snapped somewhere along the way. Military brothers usually have each other’s back, but this guy had no concern for the unwritten code of integrity and recognition of one’s fellow comrade. He’s tainted and disgraceful. Therefore, he must be eliminated from service. And, Nathan is just the person to make damn sure that he will not hurt another innocent woman.

This was a well thought out and thrilling novel. Action and intrigue with a hint of mystery were explored as well. The romance built as the two main characters realized their attraction was intense to the extend that it could be something special between them. In reality, I believed they saved each other. Nathan coming to the aide of Honor to rescue her from a situation so harrowing. And, Honor, saving Nathan from the ravages of war that plagued his conscience day after day. Two strong characters that relied on that survival instinct to pull them through their sad and grievous suffering while hoping that they could trust someone else to help see them through something so painful.  A novel not to be missed. I read this book pretty quickly because it just sucked me in from the first few pages turned. Ms. Hebert is quickly becoming a new favorite author of mine. Looking forward to reading Tipsy – her next Take It Off novel.

And, what a magnificent cover too!!! It just totally entices the reader;)

Review Written, 1/6/14

Boy Next Door written by Emma Clark (200 pgs) – finished 12/10/13 – 4 stars

 Okay, where do I begin? Well, this book was definitely a hard read. So much going on in only a seemingly short novel. Yes, some things were difficult to read. But, I wouldn’t say it was a horror story per say, with fictional monsters like vampires or zombies. But, there was a monster present, and his name was Brandon. He was just so delusional...mentally unstable. Tender one minute and volitile the next. It was tragic. It was so sad. But, when dealing with the mental stability of some individuals, they just don’t understand that what they’re doing is not normal beyond any means whatsoever. And, Brandon had his issues that were aggressively violent that brought great pain to the trusting and intelligent Mia. She works in the local coffee shop just kind of wasting time after high school in a dismal and crummy job. While wiping down the counter, she glances up at amazing blue-green eyes staring at her from across the room. They belong to a tall dark-haired smiling guy that has that celebrity-enhanced quality. With his arm muscles bulging and a noticeable scythe tattoo on display, he just permeates with confidence and power. When Mia has finished her shift and tries to start her ancient car, it of course, has a mind of its own. Shit! It won’t start! The handsome guy from the coffee shop, who introduces himself as Brandon, offers to give her a ride home. He reveals to her that it just happens to be on his way after she tells him where she lives.  Does she take the ride from him or sit in this stressful situation alone? Mia, thinking that he seems nice enough, and it’s not that far a drive so what could possibly happen, decides to take him up on his offer. Mia, though, soon finds herself a victim to a horrible and physically violated situation by a mentally violent-strickened demon. What was she ever thinking by allowing this deviant freak give her a ride? Will she survive this barbaric assult and see her father again? Or will she become a fatal victim of Brandon’s continuous perverted violations?

Wow! Was this hard to read. Unfortunately, horrific abuse like this does occur. I remember not too long ago reading how three young women were found in Cleveland, OH that had been kidnapped ten years ago. They had also been victims of a madman that abused them sexually as well as emotionally. One has to be an exceptionally strong individual to survive that kind of cruel and merciless sense of trauma. So, this novel was equally heartbreaking to read. Ms. Clark creates two characters that are sadly neglected. Mia just had a hard time fitting in with her family as her father has remarried and there’s no obvious love between her and her step-mother. Brandon comes from wealth, but he’s expected to carry-on the family profession after graduating from med-school. So, much is expected of him from his father, and obviously, he just can’t handle the responsibility. Brandon’s mind is slipping out of reality, and he needs to be reassured that he’s in control fully. He needs to have Mia as his prisoner to remain in that dominate commanding situation. And, Mia finds herself yielding to his authoritative ways. Can there be more to their relationship as the months go by? And, when this catastrophe is finally over, will Mia find herself not being able to forget the oftentimes tender and loving "boy next door" that held her captive and took away her sense of decency and self-worth?

This novel wasn’t so much as brilliant, but nothing was held back – the emotion, the horror, the heartbreak, the sadness, and the intrigue as to how far the author will push the envelope was exposed. Looking forward to seeing what new thriller is next on the horizon for this enthralling author.

Review Written, 1/2/14


Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Okay, it's time to get moving and become the blogger of book reviews that I always wanted to be. My busy life with four kids has slowed down considerably, so I'm somewhat ready to take on the role of blogging about the numerous books that I read throughtout each month.  Last year I read 108 books, and this year I am on target to read around the same amount. I very rarely give a book less than 3 stars because it just seems so important to award an author for time well-spent in writing and researching her "baby". Not all novels are worthy of those 3 stars, however. But, when I think about how entertained and intrigued I am in the story, I just have to give credit for the attempt to entertain me, the reader. I tend to gravitate to the injured, and not just the physically affected. I like the angst and the heartache. The thriller. The sadness. The tearfully broken. The one that eventually consumes that "happily ever after". It's what I look for in a book. And, it's what puts a smile on my face, and makes me look forward to re-connecting with that same author that so engrossed me in their story in the first place. So, it's with great pleasure that I'm going to hopefully delight readers in reviewing books that both captivate and delight me...