Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren {with Audiobook Notes}

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren
Series: Grand Tour Series #1
Published by David C. Cook
Publish Date: January 1, 2012

418 Pages
Source: Book - Publisher, then Bought, Audiobook - Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


It’s the summer of 1913 and Cora Kensington’s life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, but someone dear to Cora is failing as well.

In one fateful afternoon, a stranger comes to call, and Cora discovers a terrible secret about her past…a secret that will radically change her future.


Cora is invited to take the “Grand Tour” of Europe, a journey intended to finish a person’s education, to solidify an understanding of ancient culture and contemporary refinement. As she travels from England to France, with kin she’s never known, Cora encounters the blessings of a family name, as well as the curses. But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes the journey is only beginning…. (from Goodreads) 



Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren 

My Thoughts: Well, I've read this book twice now, by both print and audiobook each time. I liked it the first time I read it. I liked it even more the second time. Honestly, it's driving me crazy that I haven't already continued with the series. So I need to put some hustle into my step and do just that. 


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Glamorous Illusions is my first book by this author! Unlike many others, I have not read her very popular River of Time Series yet. I found this book to be fun and light and easy to read, and I think that might be what makes it so endearing to me. Cora Diehl Kensington has an innocence about her that is nice and refreshing - the product of the Montana farm-raising, I presume? - but it also makes her a bit naive about the world around her, and that is a large part of this story. Another chunk of this story, I think, is Cora's struggle to come to terms with the new large change in her life:  how it comes to her even though she had no control over it, and also how it affects her in so many different ways. She is a woman of great faith, and this huge life change tests her faith almost constantly.

Cora suffers from a broken heart when she finds out about her father's ill health condition, and it is compounded when she finds out that her parents have been keeping a pretty large secret from her for her entire life. Despite being hearbroken, we see her as headstrong at times, and also a little bit immature here and there. I think that given the situation she is placed in, this is understandable. Cora finds herself frustrated often and hurt more than once, and she has to remind herself of her faith when she feels these struggles. I think I've read a few times where readers find this behavior by Cora redundant, but to be fair and honest, that is how life is. I have to do the same thing in my own faith, so I won't fault Cora at all for doing this! She is only doing what she should, and it works. She is able to remain composed and poised through her most trying times (at least most of the time). For all of her lack of knowledge in how to deal with the upper-society that she is thrust into, Cora tends to come out ahead in most circumstances and this made me smile for her as I read. 

Cora is a lovely woman, and certainly she would catch the eye of interested gentlemen. My favorite male character in the book, Will, is one of the guides on the Tour...which means that technically he should keep his eyes and mind and heart off of the ladies of the trip, including Cora. But the heart cannot help what it feels, and I loved reading Will's growing interest in Cora and how his heart began to fall for her slowly and fully. He took on the role of protector very early and I think that he also felt a bit of a kindred spirit in Cora because he knew her story - he knew that she felt ill-placed among the others on the trip, as did he at times. The two shared a budding friendship that sprouted from this common ground, and this made Will's heart soar. But as Cora began to show interest in a handsome and wealthy European man, Pierre, my own heart broke a little bit because I could feel Will's feelings. AND I was so invested in him as a character. AND I just want Cora to fall in love with Will. I WANT IT TO BE THE WAY I WANT! Go away, Pierre! 

(You don't really care about Pierre, do you Cora? DO YOU?)

I would be silly not to mention that I loved the small portion of the story that included the Montana countryside, because I loved it. I loved the European part as well. The characters were varied and colorful, which I love in a book, and this has much, much, much to do with their interaction and feelings toward Cora. Certainly my favorites are Cora and Will, and I even love Cora's attendant on the Tour. Her siblings are always up to crazy things and getting into trouble, and this made for a few chuckles and smiles along the way. They are also quite mean to her on more than a few occasions - despite this, I enjoyed their interaction with Cora because it showed her own character development and coming-of-age. The end of the story was quite suspenseful as it led up to the set-up for the next book, which I thankfully have on-hand, ready to begin. 

I'm ready to read more interaction between Cora and Will, and I want to experience more of Europe. 

Audiobook NotesThe audiobook format of Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren is published by Oasis Audio and is 11 hours, 30 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Jaimee Draper who, I think, is the perfect person to voice Cora! She does a great job with the other two points-of-view in the book as well, but I could not have imagined a more perfect Cora. In fact, I was just looking yesterday at Audible and saw that Jaimee Draper was reading two different books that I am interested in and added them to my wish list so I can listen to them because I enjoyed her reading. I am happy that she continues to read the rest of this series because I have already purchased it and will enjoy listening to her carry it to completion. I recommend this audiobook for first-reads or re-reads. 

The first time I read Glamorous Illusions, I chose it because I thought the cover was really lovely and it sounded interesting. I could not have expected to enjoy it as much as I did. I picked it up and read it the second time because I was looking for something fun and light, and it was exactly what I wanted. I recommend Glamorous Illusions for readers that enjoy historical fiction/inspirational fiction, books with sibling relationships, coming-of-age stories, and books that include travel. 

**I feel like this short book trailer is a really good indicator of what the book is about! Check it out. 





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Glamorous Illusions will appeal to fans of:

Historical Fiction 
Christian/Inspirational Fiction
Romance: Slowly developing. No triangle.
Setting: Montana, England/France - 1913
Alternating POV

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren
is currently available for purchase.

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Have you read GLAMOROUS ILLUSIONS? 
Or other books by this author? 
 
Can you give me some other
historical fiction recommendations?




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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Falling To Pieces by Jamie Canosa Review & Giveaway

Falling To Pieces by Jamie Canosa
Series: Pieces #1
Publish Date: April 16, 2014
277 Pages
Source: Author for Review - Thank you! 
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon 


Suffering the bitter tongues of her alcoholic mother and cruel boyfriend, Jade struggles just to look at herself in the mirror. She hates her life, her insecurities, her ineptitudes, but most of all . . . Jade hates herself. She wants nothing more than to disappear, and everyone seems happy to let her. Until Kiernan Parks moves back into town. 

Jade’s been crushing on him ever since kindergarten, when his family moved away. But now he’s back, and looking better than ever. 


Hiding is a way of life for Jade, but Kiernan insists on uncovering the real girl he’s sees trapped inside her. On drawing her out of her shell, and showing her that she is someone worthy of love. 

Together, they fight back the darkness she’s living in. But when they finally step into the light, will the secret Kiernan’s been trying to keep buried destroy Jade, once and for all? 

For some people, happy endings are a fairytale.
 -(from Goodreads) 

Falling To Pieces by Jamie Canosa 

My Thoughts:  I have loved every single thing I've read by Author Jamie Canosa. Falling To Pieces is no exception. She writes great contemporary fiction with issues that are gripping and heart-wrenching, and I always easily fall in love with her characters (every time) and become easily attached to them and to their stories. Each time I find out she has another contemporary book in the works, I get really excited, which is exactly what happened with this book. I was absolutely thrilled to get the chance to read it and loved that it was true to the author's style, which I love. Again, I found myself emotional over her characters and their issues and the events surrounding them, and I loved what these characters had going on together. 


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Jade is a young high schooler, the daughter of single mother that happens to be an alcoholic. Jade spends more of her time taking care of her mother, it seems, than as a functioning student. She has an almost non-existent social life, barely floating through high school on the coattails of her scumbag boyfriend who happens to be a big-shot football player. Doug treats her like a doormat and Jade lets him, knowing that if she didn't have Doug to "protect" her, the rest of the student body would eat her alive. The truth is that Jade has had a big-time crush on this one boy - Kiernan - since he showed her kindness back on the playground when they were something like five years old...but then he moved away. Jade has always kept him in the back of her mind through everything as a happy memory, BUT THEN ONE DAY HE SHOWS UP, RIGHT BACK IN HER CLASS. Kiernan is back in her life

Jade couldn't be more excited. And nervous. And unsure of what to do. Because she has a boyfriend, you see. Besides, why would the super-handsome Kiernan even remember a brief exchange on the playground from YEARS ago? Surely he wouldn't. And he certainly wouldn't care about someone like Jade. No way. 

One of the many things Kiernan does have going for him is that he is kind. And he sees Jade as she is. There is a chance meeting uptown in the grocery store in which Kiernan witnesses Jade's mother treating her absolutely horridly - Kiernan steps in to show her kindness even when he does not have to. Jade is dismayed that Kiernan obviously doesn't remember her and yet simultaneously uplifted that he even noticed her and stepped in to kinda-sorta defend her. For a few minutes, she feels seen. Not invisible. From that point, Kiernan begins to pop up here and there, defending Jade against Doug and his ridiculously offensive public treatment of her, offering her rides home when she is forced to walk as a means of punishment by her mother and by Doug, and just flat-out being a really nice guy. Over time, an easy friendship develops as Kiernan begins to show Jade that she is indeed somebody worth something, someone worth loving, somebody worth value - despite what her mother tells her every single day. With the Kiernan's encouragement, Jade has the courage to break up with Doug because of his inexcusable treatment of her - when he retailiates in a very public and very hateful way, Kiernan is there by Jade's side throughout the entire thing, offering her encouragement to keep her head up and stay strong.

Naturally feelings progress - it is very sweet and what I, as a reader, hoped to happen. I rooted for these two from the moment Kiernan popped up on the pages. I never liked Doug - of course - and I did not like Jade's mother either. They were awful and responsible for Jade's total lack of self-esteem. BUT! there is a point in the book when things begin to happen that foreshadow something lurking on the horizon - and I began to wonder if this something had to do with Kiernan...I began to speculate about WHAT THIS COULD BE. By this point, I WAS SO EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED TO KIERNAN and JADE and the two of them together, and I was a littler nervous! I loved what Jade was working to overcome and I loved her growth because of the time and attention Kiernan was giving her, and how with him - they were greater than then sum of their parts, if you know what I mean. I loved their relationship and, like I said, I was nervous. 

AND OH MAN. Oh, Jamie Canosa. Oh, my heart. 

I kind of loved it. But oh man. 

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Author Jamie Canosa has a tendency to take my heart and squeeze it in so many different ways. I love the way she lays out her stories - I always fall hard for her characters with loads of sympathy or empathy or emotion and always compassion. I always find myself pulling for them SO HARD and wanting the best for them in the very best ways. These characters that she writes are typically young people that have big obstacles to overcome, and I love that they are put in situations that are typically not situations that I am faced with or familiar with, but that I can easily imagine are very realistic - I find this makes her books very readable. I usually love the male and female protagonists for the character growth, and love that she chooses their portrayals carefully and realistically. And I love that these are issues-based characters, as I've mentioned above. 

This book, Falling To Pieces, includes the ending of endings that had me ALL EMOTIONAL. Oh, Jamie Canosa, this book. I'd love it very much if you would just write more in a hurry so I can keep going because my heart, my heart. But I can be patient. I can. As soon as I possibly can. Because I loved this story to pieces. 

Author Jamie Canosa is a great go-to author for great contemporary, you guys. I've loved her stories so hard. I recommend Falling To Pieces to fans of YA/NA Contemporary with issues and readers that love becoming emotionally involved with characters. This is one author that is basically instant-read status for me as in terms of contemporary and OH MY HEART. OH. MY. HEART. 



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Jamie Canosa is a full time author of YA literature, which she absolutely loves. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. She currently resides in Ravena, NY with her wonderful husband and three crazy kids . . . plus the dog, the bird and the rabbit.

Find Jamie Canosa: Blog / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Friday, April 25, 2014

Reality Boy by A.S. King Review

Reality Boy by A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: October 22, 2013

368 Pages
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.
 (from Goodreads) 


Reality Boy by A.S. King

My Thoughts:   Reality Boy by A.S. King features one of the strongest main characters I've probably ever read in young adult contemporary fiction, or maybe in any type of book. 


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Gerald Faust is an angry teen. He works an average job and seems to be an average kid, but he really is not. He actually has a pretty interesting past that comes from playing a "role" on a reality television show back when he was a young boy. And when he was on that television show, Gerald did something that kids do sometimes and never lived it down. Because of this, he became known as The Crapper, and this has followed him around like a shadow for his entire life. 

Not only is being known as The Crapper the worst thing ever, but Gerald's family is the worst thing ever. His mother is awful because she lets his awful sister do whatever she wants. His father is awful because he never says anything to his awful mother or his awful sister - he just lets awful things happen and doesn't ever stand up to anyone. His other sister is awful because she had the guts to get away when she could - she went to college - and she left him there in that awful house to deal with things on his own. 

So Gerald is angry. He spends most of his time trying not to beat people up, to talk himself out of going to jail for beating people up. Because they deserve it. Because they're all awful. But then that one girl that works with Gerald - the cute one - she starts talking to him and pays attention to him and treating him like he's not so bad. And then one random stranger hugs him. So Gerald realizes here and there, in between long periods of anger and feeling awful, that maybe life isn't as bad as he thinks it is. Maybe he has some control over his life. Maybe he can do something about his situation. And maybe he isn't as awful as his mother always told him he was. Maybe he is more than just The Crapper. 

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Gerald and his anger. WOW. As a child, Gerald was on one of the reality television shows most of us have heard of or seen that feature a dysfunctional family and a nanny that comes in to help that family. The nanny that comes in to help Gerald's family doesn't seem to be able to do much with his family, though, because his parents (read: his mother) is resistant to the suggested changes and his father is too passive to take a stand to help the family out. Unbeknownst to the world, one sister bullies Gerald and the other sister relentlessly - but it is never aired on television. The world only sees Gerald as The Crapper because he pooped in an inappropriate place once as a means for attention...and the network played it up...and chose to air only certain scenes...and assigned everyone in the family a persona that didn't really match who that person really was. 

This caused Gerald to have a really messed-up childhood and adolescence, and his teen years are still pretty screwed up. His entire family is still wildly dysfunctional. He pretty much hates them and his anger is the driving force of his life. He is in a "special" class at school because...well, it's really interesting why he's in that class, you see. And Gerald is having a really hard time breaking the cycle of angry. All it takes is one person to have some faith in him and be kind to him and push him to be more. And a hug from a stranger. 

I'm purposefully vague about Reality Boy because there are other reviews out there that you can read for more information if you want to. As for me, I went into reading this book knowing nothing about it and walked away from it absolutely blown away at how incredible it is. Gerald, as a character, is a force in YA Contemporary - one of the best male POV's I've ever read in my life, and one that I won't forget. He is a character that made me feel things for several reasons: I felt sad for him because he was stuck in a rut of anger that was not necessary and easy to get out of with a little bit of help. I felt like someone could have reached out to him as a young child and helped him (like the nanny, perhaps) but his dysfunctional family prevented this, and I'm sure that this happens more in our society than we realize even without the reality television part. I even felt awful that I had watched a show or two like this in the past because I felt like somehow I was a part of making Gerald into The Crapper, even though I know that isn't the case at all. I felt amazed that someone so young could hold so much bitterness and anger, and I found it almost a little bit scary. 

It is scary how much influence one person can have over another person or group of people either by doing things or by not doing things. In Gerald's case, he grew up believing things about himself because of what other people said and did or didn't do, and most of these things weren't even the truth. It took him years to realize that he was powerful enough to create his own life, to be his own person, to shake off labels that people try to put on him. The message in this book is INCREDIBLY POWERFUL. Getting to that point - well, it was hard. I could not stand several other characters in this book but it was because I was so attached to Gerald. And I was attached to Gerald despite his absolute anger at everyone and everything. Gerald would have likely been angry that I was emotionally attached to him, if the truth is told. I loved the point in the book when he began to open up a little bit to his friend and then especially when he experienced the kindness of a stranger - this is when Gerald began to feel some hope mixed in with his anger. It was almost like the hope was uncomfortable for him, foreign. The anger was what he was used to and what he was comfortable with. BUT! Over the course of the book, it was like watching the anger and the hope play tug-of-war - it was hard but rewarding. 

By the time Reality Boy was over, I felt tired. I felt like I had run a marathon - Gerald exhausted me. That much anger and that many emotions inside of one person depleted me. But WOW reading his story and experiencing him as a character was SO, SO WORTH IT and I am saying solidly that he is one of the best characters I've read in a very long time. I feel like the book cover captures an image of his character perfectly - the look on that cover looks exactly like the pent-up anger I imagine Gerald feels and tries constantly to manage. 

I loved Reality Boy by A.S. King. I really don't know how to say enough good things about this one. The thing is that if you've read anything by this author, you know. YOU KNOW. And if you have not, well then I recommend you give her work a chance. It is profoundly exceptional young adult fiction and should be read by people of all ages. Period. There is a reason that she is an award-winning author.

I recommend Reality Boy by A.S. King to fans of young adult contemporary. There is a romance in this book, but it is interesting because it never overshadows the real story and the couple never becomes more important than Gerald. This author's work is incredible and there isn't much more to say than that. It needs to be read. 

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Reality Boy will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Contemporary with Issues
Romance: Never overshadows main plot. No triangle. 
Family Relationships, Dysfunctional
Excellent Male POV
Reality Television

Reality Boy by A.S. King
is currently available for purchase.

**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for these very laid-back thoughts and they are my own! Thank you Little, Brown BYR! 

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Have you ever read anything by A.S. King? 

Because WOW. 


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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown Review

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
Published by 
Little Brown BYR
Publish Date: May 6, 2014
288 Pages

Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

Born and raised in the Midwest, Jersey Cameron knows all about tornadoes. Or so she thinks. When her town is devastated by a twister, Jersey survives -- but loses her mother, her young sister, and her home. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she's sent to live with her only surviving relatives: first her biological father, then her estranged grandparents.

In an unfamiliar place, Jersey faces a reality she's never considered before -- one in which her mother wasn't perfect, and neither were her grandparents, but they all loved her just the same. Together, they create a new definition of family. And that's something no tornado can touch.
 (from Goodreads) 


Torn Away by Jennifer Brown 

My Thoughts:  There are two very significant things you need to know about ME when you begin to read my thoughts on Torn Away
  1. I have never-but-always-wanted-to read something by Jennifer Brown. I have only heard excellent things about her books. I was thrilled and excited to begin this one, and I am thrilled and excited to have completed it. I love it and will do everything I can to devour her backlist. I love all contemporary fiction, but THIS is my favorite kind, I do believe. 
  2. This book, as stated in the summary above, centers around a young girl's life as she is rebuilding after the devastation of a tornado that surprised her one day. --- Last year, for the first time ever, we had a HUGE rash of tornados here, in far Eastern North Carolina. WE DON'T HAVE THIS PROBLEM. I mean, we have tornado watches and sometimes we have tornado warnings. I've never heard a tornado siren. But last year, we had to squish into the small spaces - the bathrooms and such - and do all of that stuff. This was the first time I've ever had to do that in my life and I'm not the youngest kid on the block. So I was re-living a little bit of that while I was reading, and just WOW. And on top of that was the WOW that was the story. 
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Torn Away opens as Jersey is home alone while her mother and sister are away in town. They had just left the house, and Jersey was glad to see them finally go - she was annoyed that her sister was being a little loud and in-her-face, always wanting her to play and dance together. While Jersey's mother did leave her a list of chores to do, Jersey was grateful for the quiet time she would have in their absence. Jersey begrudgingly began on her chores when she began to hear the local tornado sirens. As she checked the look of things outside, Jersey realized that this time the sirens might be something she ought to take seriously. She gave it a few minutes...and watched...and contemplated. But too quickly Jersey realizes that 
YES THERE IS A TORNADO APPROACHING AND IT IS A BIG ONE AND I HAVE TO GO TO THE BASEMENT BY MYSELF AND OH WHERE IS MOM BECAUSE STUFF IS HITTING THE HOUSE SO HARD AND IT IS SO LOUD AND I NEED TO GET TO THE BASEMENT NOW NOW NOW AND WHERE IS MOM AND I'M ALONE! AND WHERE. IS. MOM? 
She waited below ground as the tornado devastated the area, ripping her house apart and completely obliterating her neighborhood and parts of her town. Jersey braced herself and walked upstairs and suddenly her life changed. Meaning, it was gone. Life as Jersey knew it was gone.  

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As a die-hard lover of young adult contemporary fiction, one of my favorite things about these types of books is when a character grips me so hard that I want to crawl through the book and just love on him or her, and this is where I found myself with Torn Away by Jennifer Brown. I love these contemporary books with issues and that have great characters with issues, and while Jersey didn't initially start out as a character-with-issues, it only took a few pages before she became one. I found myself so attached to her that I wanted to go to her and give her encouragement and support and just HELP HER THROUGH THIS TIME IN HER LIFE. She took over my heart while I was reading this book, you guys, because my heart was broken for her. 

Within the few seconds that it took for Jersey's life to completely change and be re-routed, her perspective changed AND SHE KNEW THIS. Right away, as she crawled out of her basement, she knew that things would probably never be the same, which means that right away we begin to see changes in Jersey. The girl that seemed annoyed at her little sister and maybe a tad bit jealous or spoiled-ish in the beginning IMMEDIATELY was filled, filled to the top and overflowing, with pain and regret and remorse and hurt and every emotion. She knew beyond reasoning that if she could go back and just be nice to her sister - just dance with her or pay attention to her or smile at her instead of acting annoyed - it might make a difference somehow. It is after a while that Jersey finds that her mother and sister did not make it out alive that I thought my heart was broken for her - and it was - but MAN OH MAN, things were really only getting started on Jersey's journey. 

From this point, I experienced Jersey bouncing from one place to another. First she is sent to live with Clay, her biological father, the man she never knew, and "his" family. Then she goes to live with her grandparents - she also never knew them. Both of these experiences are terrifying and eye-opening for Jersey because they are all people she never had the opportunity to know before during her life and they are completely new experiences. Each place involves Jersey trying new things, which is hard when she has not had even the opportunity to grieve properly. Each place involves a group of people that knew about her while she never knew anything about them. There are times when Jersey is not accepted and times when she is accepted. There are time when Jersey is not sure who she is anymore and as a result, she acts out (understandable, under the circumstances) and there are times when she feels she has to hide her grief because she does not feel comfortable enough with anyone to share her pain. There are times when she learns new things about her family that she never knew before, and her mother's past, and even herself - these are the parts of the story that I think I loved the most. Jersey was challenged in more ways than can be counted and in the end, while she isn't healed completely, I felt like she was moving in a forward direction and I felt resolution with that, as much as possible given what happened to her. Jersey has a lot of healing to do and it will take longer than the length of this book for that to take place. 

This story takes place over a relatively short amount of time and even so, there is a ton of coming-of-age packed in there. I love that the author chose to not include romance in this story and focus completely on the event, how it affected the character, and all of the aftermath of that event, including the beginning of Jersey's healing process. Jersey is an extremely well-developed character to be someone that has had to change so rapidly and so many different times, and most often not of her own choosing. She has had to overcome obstacles that I could not even begin to imagine yet they are realistic and felt very real, and were written such that I felt like I was right beside of her the entire way. I loved that about this book, even in the midst of the tornado. 

Speaking of that tornado, while I was reading about it, it made me think of the time when I was experiencing the tornado here and could even see it moving across my backyard. Nobody here was hurt - it did not even come close enough to my house to do anything other than stir up plenty of wind and whip stuff around. My point in mentioning this is that I love that the fear I felt then made the fear Jersey felt more real to me as I read, even though Jersey's experience is much different and far more serious. As a person that loves becoming emotionally attached to characters, this just made me appreciate her more (even though I would have loved and appreciated her on her own without that little tidbit of a memory to make her experience more real to me). That may sound completely crazy. 

I highly recommend Torn Away by Jennifer Brown for readers that enjoy young adult contemporary with some issues. This story features no romance, which is fun for a nice change. The cover is fantastic and the author has been highly recommended to me for a long time, and I'm so happy that I took this plunge. I can't wait to read more by this author. I can imagine that this would be a great book to experience in audiobook form because the intensity of it would be an audiobook lover's dream, I think. 

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Torn Away will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary with Realistic Fiction
Romance: None. 

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
will be available for purchase on May 6, 2014.


**I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts and they are my very own! Thank you Little, Brown! 

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What books have you read by Jennifer Brown? 
Recommend more for me PLEASE! 

I love adding this author to my "want-to-read" list! 
This is contemporary that I LOVE. 




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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant Review

A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant
Series: A Year of Weddings #3
Published by 
Zondervan
Publish Date: January 28, 2014
80 Pages
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


A year's worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. Happily ever after guaranteed.

In A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant, history re
peats itself when this bride runs out of the church on her wedding day---in the same dress that had been passed down for generations and worn by her mom, grandma and great-grandmother who also ran out of their weddings. The heroine struggles to break destructive cycles of the past. Can this bride shuck expectation and discover who SHE is as a bride and in the Bride of Christ? And if she finally walks down the aisle, what dress will she be wearing? Readers will enjoy this novel of redemption centered on a winter wedding. (from Goodreads) 


A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant 

My Thoughts:  I am a little late on posting this review although I did read this book during the Valentine's Day/February part of the year and I LOVED IT. A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant is carrying on in the tradition of the two A Year of Weddings Series books before it, and I am finding that I am falling more and more in love with these short romantic novellas the more that I read them. 

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A February Bride opens as Allie is freaking out. The smalltown Southern church is packed with a crowded sanctuary, the air was stuffy and hot, and people were waving their wedding programs in anticipation of just exactly when this ceremony would begin. Allie, growing every more anxious, begins to sweat (do not sweat in the dress, Allie!) and twist her lovely rose bouquet and pace the carpet. Oh the anxiety! Married. Married? Can she do it? NO, no she can't. So Allie bolts. I mean, she runs. Allie runs in order to spare Marcus the humiliation of a divorce later. She runs now to prevent the heartache that would absolutely, certainly, no doubt come later. As she runs, she hears the popular wedding music beginning in the church behind her, the music signaling that the ceremony is now ready to begin...

Fast forward four months: Allie is having lunch with her good friend Hannah. Hannah, her Maid of Honor. Hannah, who just also happens to be Marcus' sister. Talk about awkward. The reason for the lunch: Hannah wants to let Allie know she is engaged to be married, she is thrilled about it, and she is planning a Valentine's Day wedding! Yay! And OH YEAH, and she wants Allie to be her Maid of Honor, a part of the wedding party that will without-a-doubt include Marcus. Deep breath, Allie. 

Wait, what? How is this even possible? After all of the hurt she has clearly caused Hannah and Marcus and the rest of their family, how is Hannah able to look beyond that and still want her to be a part of her most special day? Because Hannah has done nothing but show Allie the unconditional love and grace that a good friend would do, even though her heart has broken for the pain her brother has felt. What a great friend. 

And what an awkward request! But how can Allie say no? 

Time to plan a wedding. Deep breath, Allie. 

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Allie is such a fun and quirky character. She comes from a hilarious line of women that are heartbreakers to a fault - these women all believe that they should break the heart of their men before they are able to have their own hearts broken. Love 'em and leave 'em! Their reputation for breaking hearts is stellar, and Allie fears that this is a curse she is doomed to bear. This, this, is the real reason she left Marcus at the altar. She loved him dearly - she still does! But she just couldn't put him through the pain of having her commit the same atrocious heartbreaking foolishness that the women in her family are well-known for. 

Allie never gave a thought to the fact that she could be the one to break that cycle and be stronger than the legacy that has been set before her. She is actually nothing like her mother and the women in her family - and the entire town knows it. Marcus knows it, as does the rest of his family. So her plan of saving him? - it didn't really do anything but hurt him even more deeply. 

And Marcus - what a great guy. He never stopped loving Allie. He always considered her his girl. Sure, he was hurt. Sure, he went through a period of being angry and upset and humiliated - anyone would in his position. But deep down, his feelings never changed - he just buried them and covered them up with other things. Other hobbies and friends, his work, things like that...until his sister's wedding. 

It takes their Hannah and her wedding to force the two back together. And by back together, I mean they were actually forced to be in close proximity for the first time in a while. Avoidance wasn't an option. As both members of the wedding party and best friend/brother of the bride, there was no way the two could tastefully bow out of all of the pre-wedding events: parties, receptions, showers, meals. (Not here in the South, mind you!) It only takes a time or two in the same proximity for ALL of the feelings to rise back up and rear their heads, and before we-the-readers know it, we are witnessing a rebirthing of a romantic relationship all over again. Except it is sweeter this time because there is already the establishment of love and the back-history and the old flame that was there before. Don't we all just love second-chance romances? YES. YES WE DO. 

Here are the issues: Should these two take the step and get back into a relationship? Allie believes she is cursed to be like the women in her family, so she is extremely reluctant, and the only women she would ever dream of confiding to about this are Marcus' family! So how will this thing all play out? Hannah is really focused on her own wedding, and so is her family - but they've all always treated Allie like their own, so will they make time to help her out or will they let her wade through this all on her own. I think the workings of this HEA will be surprising and lovely and make you want to hug this book. I REALLY DO. 

I loved the way things worked out in the end. YES, there is a wedding - we know that because there is a wedding scheduled throughout the book. But the way everything comes together for Allie and Marcus gives us not only the happily-ever-after we are looking for, but in a bigger way than I expected. I kind of loved it a ton. Plus - bonus! - I loved the wedding festivities that were planned and described for Hannah, even though they weren't necessarily the main focus of the story. So much fun with humor and romance included! 

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Needless to say, I loved the mess out of A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant. It is a feel-good contemporary romance with a little inspiration thrown in and a wonderful HEA. I recommend it for fans of the things I just mentioned and readers that love a little novella thrown into their stacks every now and then. Plus, HELLO! have you seen that absolutely beautiful cover? So stunning. Just like with the other books I've read in this series so far, this novella can be read as a standalone but I completely recommend the entire series. They are inexpensive and they are fun, short reads and I LOVE THEM ALL SO MUCH. 

(You can read my thoughts on A December Bride HERE.) 
(You can read my thoughts on A January Bride HERE.) 

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A February Bride will appeal to fans of:

Adult Contemporary Romance/ChickLit
Holiday-Themed Stories
Romance: No Triangle. Slowly Developing Second-Chance Romance. 
Novellas/Short Stories
HEA!

A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant
is currently available for purchase.


**I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts and they are my own! Thank you Zondervan! 

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I loved this holiday novella! 

It was so sweet and cute!
Highly recommend all of the books in this series!

They are fine as standalones

or read in order. Either way!




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