Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Posted on Monday, December 21st, 2015 by Chantal

Finding Audrey by Sophie KinsellaFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
on June 9th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness, Family
Pages: 288
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An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

There are two things I think we can all agree on when it comes to books dealing with mental health:
1) We want more of them because it is such an important issue and isn’t talked about enough
2) Mental health books will ALWAYS be polarizing

There are two reasons for the second point:
a) A book deals with the heavy issue in a very serious manner and appears to be quite “dark”
b) The author decides to take a more humorous approach and pairs a heavy topic such as mental health with a writing style and story that is more fluffy

Which of these you prefer completely depends on your personal interpretation of a book and your experience with the topic that the story is dealing with. In my opinion, both choices are equally valid, as long as the author stays respectful.

In Finding AudreySophie Kinsella chose to take route b and for me personally this worked very well. I found the novel to be heartfelt and charming, at times funny, at others poignant and always honest. It is a feel-good novel that will make you laugh out loud; certainly fluffy and light but never offensive.

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The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman
Posted on Friday, August 28th, 2015 by Chantal

The Life List by Lori Nelson SpielmanThe Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman
Published by Bantam on July 2nd 2013
Genres: Love & Romance, Family, Friendship
Pages: 368
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In this utterly charming debut — one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects.

1. Go to Paris
2. Perform live, on a super big stage
3. Have a baby, maybe two
4. Fall in love

Brett Bohlinger has forgotten all about the list of life goals she’d written as a naïve teenager. In fact, at thirty-four, Brett seems to have it all—a plum job at her family’s multimillion-dollar company and a spacious loft with her irresistibly handsome boyfriend. But when her beloved mother, Elizabeth, dies, Brett’s world is turned upside down. Rather than simply naming her daughter the new CEO of Bohlinger Cosmetics, Elizabeth’s will comes with one big stipulation: Brett must fulfill the list of childhood dreams she made so long ago.

Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision. Some of her old hopes seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other dreams (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. For each goal attempted, her mother has left behind a bittersweet letter, offering words of wisdom, warmth, and—just when Brett needs it—tough love.

As Brett struggles to complete her abandoned life list, one thing becomes clear: Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.

Welcome to The Book Geek’s monthly feature, affectionately called The Genre Spotlight. It’s where we explore and choose one of the myriad genres. We’ll showcase it by having each Book Geek read and review at least one, but possibly a few books belonging to that month’s chosen genre. 
We’re hoping to expand our reading horizons to genre’s we haven’t or have barely read, and, hopefully, usher in gems our lives have been missing out on.

For sizzling August, our spotlight is on Romance. 

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Sustained by Emma Chase
Posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2015 by Angela

Sustained by Emma ChaseSustained (The Legal Briefs, #2) by Emma Chase
Published by Gallery Books on August 25th 2015
Genres: Family, Love & Romance, Romance
Pages: 272
Format: ARC, digital ARC
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A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.

When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand.

Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be.

Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I'm going to Mommy & Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal's office.

Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her…and the kids.

And that — that, I know how to do.

Emma Chase has topped herself. I never thought I’d say this but I loved Sustained more than Tangled, and that’s saying a lot. In my opinion it’s been a rather mediocre year for romances. There have been several 2015 releases I’ve enjoyed, but only a handful that I’ve absolutely loved. And even then there’s usually something I find fault with. Maybe there’s a dreaded case of insta-love in the beginning. The ending is too rushed. The plot is a bit too predictable. You get the picture. But this book? I wouldn’t change a thing about this book. It’s absolute perfection and my favorite book of 2015 so far.

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Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Posted on Monday, August 17th, 2015 by Emily May

Mosquitoland by David ArnoldMosquitoland by David Arnold
Published by Penguin on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, New Experience, Family, Marriage & Divorce, Depression & Mental Illness
Pages: 352
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“Top-notch” —USA Today “Illuminating” —Washington Post “A breath of fresh air” —Entertainment Weekly “Memorable” —People I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange. After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland. So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane. Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.From the Hardcover edition.

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The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Posted on Friday, August 14th, 2015 by Aimee

The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-DoyleThe Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Published by Corgi Childrens on August 18th 2015
Genres: Family, Fantasy & Magic, Friendship, Love & Romance, Mystery & Thriller, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC, digital ARC
Source: Penguin
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It's the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara's life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

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Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Posted on Sunday, August 9th, 2015 by Chantal

Forbidden by Tabitha SuzumaForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Published by Definitions on May 27th 2010
Genres: New Adult, Love & Romance, Family, Social Issues
Pages: 432
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She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

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Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Posted on Monday, July 27th, 2015 by Emily May

Snow Like Ashes by Sara RaaschSnow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Published by Harper Collins on October 14th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Survival Stories, Love & Romance, Family, Orphans & Foster Homes, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 432
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A striking fantasy tale of dark magic, dangerous politics, and discovering your true self—perfect for fans of Game of Thrones, An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians' only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter's magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter's defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter's future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter's magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics—and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

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Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Posted on Sunday, July 26th, 2015 by Aimee

I received this book for free from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Clarion Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mechanica by Betsy CornwellMechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Published by Clarion Books on August 25th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Steampunk, Family, Fantasy & Magic, Friendship, Girls & Women, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, digital ARC
Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Clarion Books
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Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

More often than not, when a book annoys the fuck out of me, I:

a.) Tell the characters to stuff it;
b.) Roll my eyes every five minutes; and
c.) Throw my book/Kindle across the room (and onto my bed!–no way I’m destroying my babies).

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Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson
Posted on Friday, July 24th, 2015 by Chantal

Puddle Jumping by Amber L. JohnsonPuddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson
Published by Self-Published on June 29th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Mental Illness, Family, Romance, Friendship
Pages: 121
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When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional.

Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.

Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.

Once friends when they were younger, their bond is cut short due to her accident prone nature and they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.

When he walks through the corridor of her school the first day of her senior year, she knows that it’s time to get to know the real Colton Neely. The more she learns, the deeper she falls.

Their friendship grows into love, even as Colton does not express it in words. But one decision threatens to break down the world that Lilly has tried so hard to integrate into and she must figure out if the relationship can survive if they are apart.

Puddle Jumping took me completely by surprise. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it, but I certainly didn’t think I would love it as much as I did.

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The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Posted on Friday, July 3rd, 2015 by Chantal

The Book of Ivy by Amy EngelThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Published by Entangled Teen on November 4th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Family, Love & Romance
Pages: 282
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Lately, I have been a bit weary of hype. Hype can be a great thing because it enables you to find books you would otherwise never have picked up. However, it can also take the fun out of reading because you practically already know everything about a book before you’ve even read the first page. This is why I decided to pick up The Book of Ivy, which I really hadn’t heard that much about previously. In this case, the decision paid of. I really enjoyed this novel; it was a very short, quick read.

The Book of Ivy is a dystopian novel that takes place in the future after the United States has been destroyed by a nuclear war. Most people were completely wiped out and there was only a small population left. These people came together to establish a new “nation” but there were two rival sides: the Westfalls and the Lattimers. The Lattimers won and now, fifty years later, peace and control is maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group.
The story follows Ivy Westfall, who is forced to marry Bishop Lattimer at the age of sixteen. What nobody outside of Ivy’s family knows however, is that Ivy is on a mission to kill Bishop in order to restore the Westfall family to power.

My feelings for this book are bit all over the place so let’s break it down, shall we?

World building:

The world building is definitely the weakest part of the novel. It was meager at best. We got practically no explanations for what happened to the world. Although politics are the central issue in the novel, they were very simplified and not exploited. Having said that though, I was surprised by how little I actually cared about the lack of world building. This is very unusual for me, as I am world building freak; it’s part of why I love fantasy so much. Somehow, I found myself enjoying the story and not dwelling too much on the fact that nothing was really explained.

Characters:

I mostly really enjoyed the main characters, even though I did have a few problems with both of them.

Ivy was a very relatable and likeable protagonist. She is very compassionate and outspoken yet also impulsive which gets her into trouble. At times I did find Ivy a tad annoying, simply because she kept repeating the same thoughts over and over again in her head and her impulsiveness seemed quite reckless. Her character development was very typical for a dystopian: girl starts questioning and reevaluating her beliefs and realizes that some of the things she’s been taught her entire life are in fact incorrect or exaggerated. In that, she appeared a little indecisive and there were times where I just wanted to shake her. However, considering the fact that she was only sixteen and had been sheltered her entire life, she was a very realistic character and I found myself rooting for her. I could really feel how torn she was between the loyalty to her family and her budding feelings towards Bishop.

In my opinion (and I’m sure some of you will agree with me) there is a big difference between the bookish boyfriends we love to swoon over in our favorite books and the ones we would actually like to date in real life. Many brooding, dark bad boys might be amazing to read about, but if they were real I would probably steer clear. Bishop, however, is the opposite. He is literally the PERFECT guy in every way, everything anyone could ever want in a boyfriend. He is very kind and handsome, trusting and considerate, intelligent and selfless.

“I want to be someone strong and brave enough to make hard choices. But I want to be fair and loving enough to make the right ones.”

And that’s where the problem lies: as much as I loved Bishop, I don’t like characters that don’t have flaws. Not just out of principle, but because they are kind of…bland, dull. He was adorable but not interesting.

Plot & Romance:

The book of Ivy is essentially a love story. Yes, there are political and ideological elements involved but at its core it’s a novel about two star-crossed lovers. The plot wasn’t particularly thrilling but it did keep my attention throughout and the ending was very unexpected. I’m definitely curious to know what happens in the second installment since it’s going to have a very different premise than the first one!

I really enjoyed the romance, it was very cute and there was no insta-love or love triangle. Hallelujah! Some readers might consider their relationship too sweet (I sure thought I would) but honestly, I found myself completely engaged. The one thing I didn’t like was a certain cliché towards the end (I’m not going to spoil), which made me question what exactly Bishop saw in Ivy.

Themes & Writing:

This book does attempt to make people think. It asks some difficult questions with no right or wrong answers. Which side should Ivy chose? What is the morally correct thing to do? Can there be a positive outcome?

I also appreciated that the novel explored sexism and the role of women in society.

“I’m not sure how we got to this place, where a girl’s only value is in what kind of marriage she has, how capable she is of keeping a man happy.”

It’s still an issue and an important thing to talk about.

 
The writing was very simple yet gripping and fluid. Nothing special but definitely serviceable.

Overall:

I really enjoyed The Book of Ivy but it didn’t blow me away. It’s not a very original story, nothing I haven’t read before, however, the execution is well done and it was a very quick and engaging read. I recommend it if you like dystopians with a heavy emphasis on romance. I will be picking up book two.

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a book lover, beta-reader, and Politics graduate from the North of England.

Hey there! I'm Brandi; I'm a Navy veteran, Army wife, mother, feminist and book lover! My go-to genre would have to be Urban Fantasy, but any fiction is game really.

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