Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review | Blame It On The Mistletoe by Nicole Michaels

Blame It On The Mistletoe by Nicole Michaels 
Published by St. Martin's
Publish Date: October 14, 2014

Source: Publisher
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 


’Tis the season for small-town Missouri boutique owner Brooke Abbott to get crafty. Much as she adores making art for art’s sake—decorating windows, designing ornaments, crafting the perfect present for under the tree—this Christmas she needs the gift of good customers. Lots of them. Sweet Opal Studios will go under if she can’t do some serious business before the New Year…and she has no time to lose. What Brooke needs is an honest-to-goodness miracle. Instead, she finds a burglar lurking in the back room of her shop. And here she thought the holidays couldn’t get any worse!


Or maybe things just got a lot better. Turns out the burglar is none other than Alex Coleman—local bad boy slash legendary heartthrob, childhood best friend to Brooke’s older brother, and…future landlord? That is the question. He’s come home for the holidays to see his grandmother, make peace with his distant mother, and settle his grandfather’s estate, an estate that includes the building that houses Sweet Opal. What he never expected was to bump into a grown-up Brooke, whose spirit, charm, and irresistible good looks give him pause. Should he go back to Oregon as planned, or give small-town life a chance? The only thing Alex knows for sure is that before he walks out that door, he’s going to get Brooke beneath the mistletoe, where anything can happen… (Goodreads)



Blame It On The Mistletoe by Nicole Michaels

My Thoughts:  I've been on a serious holiday-reading binge lately and I LOVE IT. I picked Blame It On The Mistletoe partly because it is a standalone by an author that is new to me and also because I fell in love with the cover. 


Here is a list of what I enjoyed about this book

  1. Brooke Abbott. Owner of Sweet Opal Studio at the 100 Main building in small-town Preston, Missouri. Brooke is single and not really looking to start a relationship - she is focused on her building her business. As the story begins, it is Thanksgiving Night and Brooke is working late at the store, making preparations for what she hopes will be a big sale weekend, when she hears noises in the apartment located over her store. Turns out the "intruder" is Alex Coleman - the guy of her high-school dreams! But why is he creeping around the building? 
  2. Alex Coleman. Alex is in town for a few days at the request of his grandmother. He planned on staying in the apartment over Brooke's store while he was in town, but he didn't realize that Brooke already lives there! Alex's grandmother owns the building, so he thought it would be better/easier/cheaper than trying to find a hotel room during the holiday season. OH WELL! Alex is awesome. He is ex-military, rugged, outdoorsy...but he thinks he is in town for a few days and then back home to his regular life. Alex never planned to be swept off of his feet by Brooke Abbott!
  3. Small-Town vs Downtown Big-City Charm. The main setting for this story is Preston, Missouri BUT there are pieces of the story that take place in nearby Kansas City. I loved the small-town storefront presence that flowed the story as Brooke and the other shopowners worked to promote business for one another. I also loved the way that the Downtown Area of Kansas City was so well-represented: There is a scene in which Alex takes Brooke on a dinner date to Kansas City - it reminds me of being from my own small town and traveling to nearby larger towns on date nights. 
  4. Crafting/Supporting Local Business. I do not craft. I am not a crafter. I am also not a business owner. However, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Brooke is and that she is so in love with the career path that she chose. She is self-taught, self-made, and she works her butt off. She is working hard to create a life doing something that she enjoys: making pretty things. She teaches crafting classes in her shop so other people can hopefully find joy in it too. This story takes place at a time when Brooke's business really needs to start taking off so she can start to feel a little more solid in her decision to open her business. The author writes in several instances of 'supporting local business' and I think that is so awesome. 
  5. Repurposing. Brooke not only creates new art, she loves repurposing and making old things look pretty again. She creates displays in her store so people can learn how to do the same thing. One of the best parts of this is that repurposing makes no sense to Alex. He understands Brooke's love for creating, but he finds it harder to grasp that she sees beauty in what he considers junk. It's very cute and makes for a few smile-inducing conversations. 
  6. Family Relationships. I love great family relationships just like the next person but this book took a different approach to that: There are a couple of family relationships that are reconnected and rebuilt after being strained for many years. I LOVE THIS. Not only is there a budding and growing romantic relationship, but there are family relationships that are healed. WIN. 
Everything is great and fun and wonderful in a new relationship, but Alex is withholding this really big piece of information from Brooke: the fact that he just inherited the 100 Main building. But there is more to this part of the story and it is kind of a big deal - now that Brooke's business is finally taking off and now that their relationship is doing well SECRETS AREN'T WHAT ALEX NEEDS. 

Be careful, Alex! Brooke is a fiesty one - I wouldn't want her upset with me!


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Blame It On The Mistletoe by Nicole Michaels was a quick, fun read with a happy ending and the added bonus of the holiday season. Oh, how I love a fun, swoony holiday story! Brooke and Alex are funny and cute as a couple, and the author wrote this story with an easy flow that made it a great selection for my ever-growing holiday collection. It is not a very long story, actually, which makes it a great option for re-read in the years to come or even later this year as it is still early in the season. I recommend Blame It On The Mistletoe by Nicole Michaels to fans of holidays reads, particularly standalones. I see that author Nicole Michaels has another book coming out in Spring 2015 and I have already added it to my wishlist because I am a sucker for fun, swoony romance stories. 

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Blame It On The Mistletoe will appeal to fans of:

Holiday Stories
Romance: Slow-Burn. No Triangle. 
Great Setting
Standalone

Blame It On The Mistletoe by Nicole Michaels
is currently available for purchase.  

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Books by Nicole Michaels: 




Thursday, October 23, 2014

Series Review | Flappers by Jillian Larkin [No Spoilers]

Vixen / Flappers #1 / December 14, 2010 / 432 Pages / Goodreads / Amazon / B&N 
Ingenue
Flappers #2 / August 9, 2011 / 351 Pages / Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
Diva / Flappers #3 / July 10, 2012 / 320 Pages / Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

I decided to read this series on a whim after browsing my library's digital shelves and noticing that there is an audiobook format available. Interestingly enough, I only made it part of the way through the first book in via audiobook and decided to finish the series in print alone. 

Things I liked about The Flappers Series

1. The time period. Flappers are fun, right? I remember when this series began, actually, and I remember seeing reviews about it - everyone was all "Flappers!" - YES, the historical fiction portion of this series is a load of fun. There are speakeasies and there is the infamous gangster activity that is associated with them. There are flappers and the glamorous lifestyles of these people is carried throughout the series very well. These books are easily visualized which is something that I always love in a story.

2.  Alternating POV. All three books in this series are told in multiple points-of-view, which is kind of neat because we are able to see the same events and people in three very different perspectives. After the first book, more POV's are added -- This did not bother me because after finishing Vixen, I knew these particular characters enough and had connected with them enough that I want to hear their perspectives too. 

Things that I didn't love about The Flappers Series


1. The language. Even with the vivid imagery of the time period and the knowledge of the language of the day, I think the little phrases throughout the series were just too much. This is the one thing that caused me to switch from audiobook to print, and that is sort of a big deal for me. These are memorable phrases, things like "posilutely" and "cat's pajamas" and "bee's knees" - and I feel like it almost took away from the story. I realize that people talked this way back then, but once I realized these words were in abundance, I felt like they were just everywhere. Then once I began reading in print, my enjoyment of the series unfortunately decreased. 

2. The behavior. I know that speakeasies and all things associated with this time period were about being rebellious and daring, but I had a hard time wrapping my head around exactly how much and how often all of these teenagers indulged in drinking, partying, sneaking around, and illegal stuff. I am not a prudish person, but the excess was as much a distraction at times as the language was. 

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Gloria, Lorraine, and Clara are three friends that tell this story - one is rich and wants the more-exciting flapper lifestyle so bad that she has been willing to lie to make people believe she already has it; one is rich but wants a life that is different from the flapper-like and rebellious lifestyle that has already given her a poor reputation; one is caught in the middle and wants to make a name for herself outside of her friend's popularity. These young girls have engagements, taboo love affairs, double lives, tons of drinking and partying, exciting jobs, and glitz and glamour. There is love, heartache, betrayal, jealousy, and murder. I think there is a little bit of everything in this series, to be honest. I believe that the first book does a pretty good job of developing the major characters and one or two of the secondaries. 

Vixen started out exciting and I was invested! I loved the differing personalities of these girls and how they were so sneaky with each other and everyone else, and I loved the visual image of this book in my head. I loved how the book ended, which made me check out the second book in the series right away from the library - in print, like I mentioned, because I really wasn't attracted to the excessive use of the "Aaannnnd how!" talk. In spite of switching up formats, and even though I had a few problems with it, I still hung with Ingenue. It took me a long time to get thru the second book. I think it may have been a little more in the way of action and excess and behavior. Such drama! By the time I got Diva, I was trudging through and considering putting the series to rest due to lack of excitement. 

Why, you ask? 

In Vixen, I was invested in each perspective and story line so even with my annoyances, it was an easy decision for me to continue with the series. It became apparent as I read Ingenue that I just was not as invested in all three of the leading ladies and some of the new plot threads - there was really only one main story that I was following, and this is how it remained through the rest of the series. It was Gloria's overall story (even though she was not my favorite character) that kept me the most invested and by the time I got to Diva, her plot line/romance was the only one I really cared about. 

Also, I'm not sure that the character development that occurred in the first book continued throughout the series to any degree, which is a little unfortunate. I know that development cannot continue at the same rate that it does when we initially meet each character, but I love it when a character is able to continue to find ways to improve on him/herself (that's how life is, hopefully). For many readers, this non-progression is totally okay, but I think I was really rooting for these young people to buckle down a bit. Or perhaps I had too many expectations of this series when I went into it. 

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IN SUMMARY: I love the covers for these books. They caught my eye, and the idea of a YA historical fiction series is what reeled me in. Ultimately, however, I lost excitement about the stories as I made my way through the series. It is clear that the author has a love for this time period because it is captured well and so easily imaginable, but the rebellion and the back-stabbing and the full-on party-hard-1920's-style attitude of these characters made it hard for me to connect after a certain point. I found myself failing to care about the story when I saw that there was very little character change for the better. I think that big, big fans of this period of time may enjoy this series but than again they may not. I did enjoy one of the three perspectives more than the others, which is ultimately why I stuck with this series until the end. 

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The Flappers Series will appeal to fans of:


YA Historical Fiction 
Romance:  Multiple romances in each book, across the series. Some are already established, some are not. 
Flappers
Completed Series

The Flappers Series by Jillian Larkin
is currently available for purchase. 

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Have you read this series or any of these books? 

Don't you love these covers? 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Read/I Saw {1}: Three times the book wasn't better.


by Piper Kerman
Book / TV Show

A rarity for me: this is actually one television show that I've kept up with and am caught up on. Another rarity for me: I decided to go back and read/listen to this book after seeing its adaptation first. I'm not sure if that decision made a difference in my opinion of the book or not, to be honest. 

This book is very...interesting. It does indeed capture a year inside of a women's prison, as the subtitle indicates. I was expecting a gritty and raw detail of prison life - and there are some of those details, sure - but I also found stories of a privileged life before prison and the privileged life that would be waiting for Piper after prison. I have to be completely honest and say that it got a little redundant hearing Piper talk about how great her life was versus the other prisoners. (Example: She talked about how she was well-read, about how she had a job waiting for her when she was released, about how she had so many visitors on visiting days and some others didn't, etc.) Also, I was surprised at the length of time it actually took for Piper to actually go to prison. For example, if I understood correctly, there was a six-year period of time between the date Piper pled guilty in court and the date she returned to court to find out when she would actually go to prison. SIX YEARS. During those six years, my understanding is that Piper lived in New York, working as a creative director for web companies, visiting awesome places in NY, vacationing and such. Living it up because she would be spending time behind bars. Okay. Okay. Perhaps little details like this ruined the actual PRISON part of the book for me? I don't know. But it was interesting. 


What I wanted was the down and dirty of the prison experience. I eventually got (some of) it, but when I did, I found that some of the Piper's true life isn't how it is on the Netflix show. Am I disappointed by this? Well, if I tell you that I AM, you may want to know WHY but I don't want to spoil anything HERE. (SPOILERS AND ALL OF THAT.) Happy to discuss elsewhere, though! 


The book is interesting, but be warned: just like with much of the book-to-movie/TV, it is very different. Maybe you should skip it if you don't like that type of thing. Or read it first, which is even better actually. I'm glad that I read it but I'm also glad I borrowed from the library and likely won't reread. I'll stick with the show. 



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Two other instances 
in which the screen adaptation is better than the book, 
in my opinion: 




Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin 

Okay WOW, that book. After I finished this one, I felt shocked at how many people loved it! I did NOT love it. Unlikable characters do not normally bother me, but I found everyone in this book unlikable except for Ethan, who is actually not the main character of this installment in the Darcy and Rachel series. 

The movie adaption, though, was much easier to tolerate! I think I liked it so much because 1) they left out so much of the book that I didn't have as much of a chance to dislike everyone so strongly and 2) OH MY GOSH the cast is FANTASTIC. Seriously, how can you dislike Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson? And John Krasinski? GET SERIOUS. He's one of America's Sweethearts! (He plays Ethan, the one that I said was the only likable character in the book.) I found myself scouring the internet hoping, wishing, praying that there would be an adaptation to the sequel, Something Blue (which was also not a book that I loved but I would watch it). Never found one!  

I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson
Book / Movie 

This book is one that I've read multiple times and in reality, it makes me feel differently every time I read it. The first time I read it, I liked it (liked, not loved) but the last time I tried to read it, I was disgusted and barely finished. I know I'll read it again, though, because I can identify so strongly with some parts (NOT ALL) of main character Kate Reddy. 

Anyway, with the movie, this is another case of great casting. I love Greg Kinnear and Sarah Jessica Parker in the roles of these super busy parents that are in a bit of a parenting/marriage drought. Also again, the movie gave me a visual of Kate Reddy's life, and I found myself sympathizing a little more - especially because not all of the book scenes are included. 


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These stories feature characters that I could consider highly unlikable but I find it easier to identify with them on screen because the visual seems to evoke stronger reactions in me - in each instance! I want to pay attention to my reactions in the future when I watch book-to-movie/TV adaptations to see if I relate more to a visual interpretation vs. a character as he/she is presented in a book. 

When have you enjoyed a movie/TV show more than a book? 

TELL ME!! 



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Monday, October 20, 2014

Nine YA Series That I Want To Start + 1 Bonus!

Click HERE to check out Top Ten Tuesday 
at The Broke and the Bookish.

Ten New Series 
That I Want To Start

This is SO HARD because I love a great series and I am currently in the middle of so many! I chose to pick series that 1) I haven't begun yet at all and 2) are completed! 

Which of these have you read? 
What are your favorites? 


The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan




Mara Dyer Series by Michelle Hodkin


 Fire and Thorns Series by Rae Carson


The Hourglass Trilogy by Myra McEntire


Wicked Lovely Series by Melissa Marr


The Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins



Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta


The Wicked Years Series by Gregory Maguire


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Time To Talk | Reader-Author Interaction Should Carry On Despite Drama, IT SHOULD!

This picture is mine. I got up this morning looking for this
mug but I CANNOT FIND IT HELP ME PLEASE.  


Okay so over the weekend there was a little bit of drama, wasn't there? YEP. 
WE ALL HATE THE DRAMA and I know that I'm not alone when I SHAKE MY HEAD and ROLL MY EYES when I pull up Twitter to see what everyone is reading only to find out that what everyone reading is something incredible stupid, because the drama usually is.  

But this time I think it is not only stupid but more than that. 
If you haven't heard or read of this crazy mess in which a published author admitted to stalking a reader/blogger/Goodreads user, here is a link to the article that seemed to start everything and clicking here will not give the article any more hits SO YAY CLICK THIS ONE. 

Read, if you would like. Then I have a few thoughts. 
If you've already read the article, PLEASE let me share my thoughts 
so I can move on from this mess. 
Thanks! 

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1. My heart pounded as I read this article. It actually read like a thriller-y novel, don't you think? I mean, I was pacing the floor and my eyes were wide and I felt like I had to DISCUSS with people. I was riveted. My initial review of this article is: if I had read this author's book, I would have probably reviewed it in a very dramatic way because I was feeling hella dramatic, which is now a little on the terrifying side. But I digress. (Disclaimer: I cannot speak to the author's novel as I have no idea about it at all. I have not read it.)

2. Stalking is never okay! We all know that. Or at least, I thought we did, until I saw that people were arguing back and forth about this. In this article, the author not only admits to stalking by actually using the word stalking, she gives out information about the person that she stalked. My opinion is: HELLO NO THIS IS NOT RIGHT. Not allowable. (Also note that the publication printed this thing, THEY PRINTED IT, WHAT?!)

HERE HERE HERE, THOUGH:

3. I finished the article and began to really pay attention to what the world was saying for a few minutes - the responses of readers of the article, bloggers, and authors. I WAS AND STILL AM ALARMED. No matter how hard I have tried to move onto other things over the weekend, to get this negativity out of my heart and mind - I just cannot until I say a few things. So here I go. 

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4. Being online means that we are all connected, which is very cool. I've been blogging for almost five years now and I still LOVE LOVE LOVE the interaction between bloggers and readers and authors and publishers. It's a cycle. It's really an incredible community and we live in this super-amazing time of connectivity because it wasn't very ago that the only way to be connected was an actual piece of paper fan mail. 

5. With that connectivity comes responsibility. YES, if we are bloggers we have an online presence. YES, authors are online and are encouraged to have an online presence. YES, publishing companies are online and have an online presence. And YES, I think it is awesome that readers are able to be online with platforms like Goodreads. And with ANY online presence inside of a book community or outside of it, THERE IS RESPONSIBILITY
Period, the end. I don't care who you are. That is all. 

6. I think it would be a big shame if we all reverted to FEAR and stopped interacting and sharing our opinions and being a community of people that love books. I think it would be the opposite of what brought this community together in the first place if everyone gives into fear because of an article that was published in poor taste and was written in poor taste about events that happened that never should have happened. 

I REALIZE that sounds very cheesy and preachy 
but I FEEL THIS so much right now.

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7. In response to authors that have tweeted about being fearful of interaction with readers and bloggers: 

Please don't be afraid to talk to your audience. The internet is a big place and this community is amazing. Readers and bloggers are generally amazing people and LOVE it when an author interacts with them! After blogging for a very long time, I still get ridiculously excited with I see a tweet "favorited" or retweeted by authors that I love - whether self/indie or traditionally published. PLEASE DON'T STOP INTERACTING! Please do not let the actions of a small few make you feel afraid. And thank you for remaining graceful when you face criticism. That must be so hard! And I'm sure it is a practiced skill - to be able to focus less on the negative and more on the positive? I cannot imagine that pressure. Be encouraged to keep doing what you do!

8. In response to the people that I have seen mention that bloggers are bullies, they are glad they are not bloggers, or they are glad they are no longer blogging about books: 

This makes me sad because generalized statements are not usually entirely accurate. Also, reading blogs is a choice and I would encourage you guys to rid yourself of any blogs or reviewers that you feel are bullies. You don't have to support that behavior and there are plenty of other fantastic reviewers and bloggers to read instead! There are plenty of great recommendations that can be provided if you need some.  

I am so proud to be associated with this community because 
this event does not define it

9. This behavior is NOT the norm, and a culture can change. 

One way this can happen is to stop perpetuating it! We can actually BE the change by not perpetuating the negativity and poor online behavior. Certainly we can speak our minds and back up our thoughts, but we have to remember to be responsible about how we do it. There is NO NEED to bash, bully, stalk, cyberbully, in-real-life bully, or do anything like that. And that includes Twitter-ranting, you guys. 
Responsibility is key.

Let's turn things around and be positive. Let's make this something to learn from instead of something that a few dwell on to the point it becomes a stain. Alrighty? Okay! 

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I am still SO PROUD to be a part of this community, but I need to be able to move on from this to a degree. This whole thing was disgusting and scary and horrible and I have thoughts about it that I probably should reserve for discussion behind the wall of a public forum. But more than anything, I think we can all take this time to 
re-evaluate ourselves and see if we're comfortable with our online presence because HELLO PEOPLE MAY BE WATCHING. And that goes both ways - it could just as easily have been a reader going overboard on a writer

I am not a bully and will never bully anyone, and I don't want to be lumped into that crowd. I understand that crap like that will happen when people become upset and need to vent. I get that. So here I am, and here are some of my feelings. 

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Share your thoughts if you have some, but remember that I'm pushing a move toward POSITIVITY after a dramatic time. Share your opinion, but please be responsible. Thanks! 







 
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