Saturday, October 31, 2015

Review | The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio
Published by Plume
Publish Date: November 25, 2014

Source: Book - Library, Audiobook - Library
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 

Born during a Christmas blizzard, Jane Williams receives a rare gift: the ability to see true love. Jane has emerged from an ailing childhood a lonely, hopeless romantic when, on her twenty-ninth birthday, a mysterious greeting card arrives, specifying that Jane must identify the six types of love before the full moon following her thirtieth birthday, or face grave consequences. When Jane falls for a science writer who doesn’t believe in love, she fears that her fate is sealed. Inspired by the classic song, The Look of Love is utterly enchanting.  (Goodreads)

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

My Thoughts The Look of Love is my first book by Author Sarah Jio, chosen because I wanted to listen to an audiobook while I did some work around the house and this one was available in my library's digital stacks. Also! My friend Jamie has recommended this author to me before and I haven't read her books yet. (She actually recommended Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio, but that book was not available at the time. Soon, Jamie!)

Briefly: Jane Williams has just found out that she has an interesting gift: the ability to "see" when two people love one another. Her vision actually changes to a blurry, cloudy sort of thing and that's how she knows there is real love there. Jane has been given the task of identifying six types of love and writing about them in a journal before her thirtieth birthday. Failure to do this means that she will never find her own true love. 

Once Jane realizes she has this gift, she also realizes that she's been seeing people love one another for a very long time without realizing it. 


The Look of Love is basically the examination of Jane's circle of friends and their romantic lives...except through Jane's eyes, which is like looking through love-colored glasses, if you can imagine such a thing. Sometimes I laughed, sometimes I smiled, and sometimes my heart broke as pieces of the intertwining stories were revealed. In this book, not everyone ends up with the all-encompassing, dramatic type of love like we seen in the movies, but that's okay. 

I loved the heartwarming tales of people finding true love. Who doesn't love stories like that? My heart broke a couple of times, too. Some of the stories that did not end up like I wanted them to, or maybe didn't take the course that I expected. Such is the way of life and love, and I think that is why I enjoyed this book so much. I loved the mixture and community of these people with different life experiences, how they were all connected, and how they all experienced differing types of the same emotion. 

I really just think that this was a case of the right book at the right time for me, and I love when that happens. This book felt like a good cup of coffee and a warm blanket. I'd love to read it again without the audiobook, perhaps in paperback format. I'd love to hold the story in my hand. Does that sound weird? Maybe. In any case, this is a perfect combination of magical realism and contemporary-not too much, but perfect. This might have been my first book by Sarah Jio but already I've found myself looking at my digital library for more of her backlist.

I recommend The Look of Love by Sarah Jio to readers that enjoy adult contemporary fiction with romance and a touch of magical realism. 


The Look of Love will appeal to fans of:

Adult Contemporary Fiction 
with Romance & Magical Realism
Intermingling Storylines
Women's Fiction

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio
is currently available for purchase.  


Some of Sarah Jio's Books: 


I wonder which one I'll read next...

Friday, October 30, 2015

Review | Nocte by Courtney Cole

Nocte by Courtney Cole 
Series: The Nocte Trilogy #1
Published by LakeHouse Press, Inc.
Publish Date: November 3, 2014

Source: Author
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 

My name is Calla Price. I'm eighteen years old, and I'm one half of a whole. My other half—my twin brother, my Finn—is crazy. I love him. More than life, more than anything. And even though I'm terrified he'll suck me down with him, no one can save him but me. I'm doing all I can to stay afloat in a sea of insanity, but I'm drowning more and more each day. So I reach out for a lifeline. Dare DuBray. He's my savior and my anti-Christ. His arms are where I feel safe, where I'm afraid, where I belong, where I'm lost. He will heal me, break me, love me and hate me. He has the power to destroy me. Maybe that's ok. Because I can't seem to save Finn and love Dare without everyone getting hurt. Why? Because of a secret. A secret I'm so busy trying to figure out, that I never see it coming. You won't either.  (Goodreads)

Nocte by Courtney Cole

My Thoughts:  I started Nocte by Courtney Cole late in the afternoon and I COULDN'T STOP. I fell asleep reading it (creepy, you guys) and when I woke up in the morning, I immediately finished it with my coffee. 


Calla and Finn Price are twins. Two halves of a whole, Calla says. But Finn has Schizo Affective Disorder and Calla feels like it is her responsibility to keep him from slipping, to keep him okay, to keep him sane. To take him to group therapy, to make sure he is on his meds. These two have a great relationship and Calla is happy to take care of her brother. But when Dare DuBray enters the picture, she suddenly finds herself wanting just a little bit of freedom to experience love. Only a little, though, because she knows that without her help, Finn would slip and that would be the end of her brother, the end of everything. 


I think it is impossible to talk too much about this book without giving anything away, so I'll just say a few things: 

1. As I often do, I started this book knowing nothing except that I loved Courtney Cole's books. I hadn't even read the summary. I did not realize that as little info as possible would be the best way to read this book, but how fortunate for me! I recommend knowing as little as possible before going in because...

2. There is a twist thrown in at a certain point that I never figured out beforehand. I'm so thrilled that it surprised me! I had formed some theories about what on earth was going on and what the secret could be as the book progressed, but to be honest, my theories weren't great and they were all wrong anyway. I love the twist and am eager to see how it plays into the rest of the series. Also...

3. After the twist, hold on tight-because there is a cliffhanger! WHAT? I know. As far as I remember, I haven't read any cliffhanger-y books by Ms. Cole, but I TRUST HER. I'm also really glad that I've waited until this trilogy is completed so I can read the next book soon. Because goodness gracious.

4. No love triangle. 


Nocte by Courtney Cole had me flipping through the pages really quickly. I didn't mean to read it in such a short time, but I couldn't help it. Every chapter seemed to make me want to read just. one. more. because I felt like this story was fun and compelling. My favorite parts were Finn's POV chapters that were sprinkled throughout the book - they were short, a little bit creepy, and slightly cryptic. 

I loved this one. Loved it! Nocte by Courtney Cole felt perfect for a fall read, with just enough of the creepy-factor for this time of year and a quick-enough pace to have my heart racing, wondering what comes next. Even knowing the secret(s) now, I'M STILL MAKING THEORIES. Why? Because of that cliffhanger! I can't wait to see what happens in the next two books.


Nocte will appeal to fans of:

Mystery with Romance
Romance: No triangle.
Great Sibling Relationship
Mental Illness, Grief
Alternating POV

Nocte by Courtney Cole
is currently available for purchase.  


The Nocte Trilogy (+ Novella) : 


CAN'T WAIT to continue with these books! 
The first one was a page-turner, for sure. 

Also, love these covers!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review | One Life by A.J. Pine

One Life by A.J. Pine
Series: Only You #2
Published by InterMix
Publish Date: October 20, 2015

Source: Publisher
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 

In the latest from the author of One Night, tragedy causes a young woman to struggle to keep her head above water, and the only one who can help her is the guy who’s been in the friend zone for the past year...

Every time life throws Zoe Adler a curve ball, she changes her appearance. Freshmen year—after almost following in her mother’s alcoholic footsteps—she said good-bye to her blonde, girl-next-door image and opted for jet black hair and piercings galore. After her brother Wyatt’s death, she escapes to the city to teach a summer art program for kids. Her black hair goes blue, and she finds solace in the arms of a longtime friend, in his heart, and in his bed—but her guilt makes her unable to accept the love he wants to give.

Spock might be the guy to save Zoe. But when she learns the truth about his past, the edge she’s teetered on since losing Wyatt drops out from under her. The girl who kept it together for everyone finally falls apart. Now Zoe must choose between drowning in guilt about Wyatt or asking for help. But even if she gets the help she needs, Spock may not be waiting for her when she’s ready to let love in.

One Life by A.J. Pine

My Thoughts:  One Life is the story of Zoe and Spock (his real name is Zach), who are both present in One Night, the first book in this series. While this book is technically the second in this series, it could certainly be read as a standalone or out of order because I do not feel like anything is really spoiled for the first book at all. 

So: Zoe's younger brother Wyatt has died and Zoe is having a super-difficult time dealing with her grief. As in, she's not dealing with it. At least, not in any real healthy way. Spock (she calls him Spock because he has the same name as her surviving brother and that's just too weird for her) is there to help her cope in the best ways possible at the time, but Zoe ends up sliding further and further into herself as the story progresses. Spock can see this happening and desperately wants to help her, but also recognizes that he is less and less equipped to deal with her issues because 1) of his own distant past and 2) her problem is way bigger than she is willing to admit. 

Just like with the previous book in this series, I think Author A.J. Pine does a great job writing not only the "broken" character, but one that is able to disconnect herself really well from the people that love her. I did not find myself as frustrated with Zoe as I did with Jess in the previous story, but it was so hard to watch Zoe spiral downward and not be able to reach through this book and help her myself (not that I could have done anything for her, but y'all know what I mean). I love feeling emotional connections like this when I'm reading a story that has issues in it. 

As far as Spock goes-I liked him so much, and again, this mirrored the way I felt about the previous book and the love interest there as well. I think Author A.J. Pine knows how to write an understanding, gentlemanly guy - Spock did his best to provide his very best support to his grieving girlfriend, but he also knew when he had to step back and let other people take the lead in helping her. I think that is hard sometimes, in romantic relationships-especially when we are young and in love. I think we want to be the saving-graces for the people that we love. But Spock knew when to back off, and this made me happy. 

The romance is great in this book, partly because it started in the previous book as something very slow. I loved that it was an undefined, sort of awkward thing between the two of them, their romance. (mild spoiler)[[ And I love that when the two of them had to be apart for a chunk of time, they remained true to one another and didn't date other people or sleep around or even kiss anyone else. Their love was for one another only. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS. ]] (end spoiler)

I also love that Jess and Adam from the previous book show up and are doing so well! LOVE that. They were like a bonus for me.

So, yes to the Only You Series . I love contemporary romances with issues that are done well and after reading two from this author, I'm sold on her approach to writing them. I'm happy to recommend One Life to readers that enjoy issues contemporaries, books with a broken character, books dealing with grief/addiction, and books with art/music in the story.


One Life will appeal to fans of:

Contemporary Romance with Issues
Romance: No triangle.
Great Friendships
Art & Music
Issues: Grief, Addiction

One Life  by A.J. Pine
is currently available for purchase.  


The Only You Series: 


Still hoping for more from this series! 
Loving these issues contemps from A.J. Pine. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review | One Night by A.J. Pine

One Night by A.J. Pine
Series: Only You #1
Published by InterMix
Publish Date: April 21, 2015

Source: Publisher
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 

When she lost it all, Jess decided to cope by living a lie. 

But you can’t keep on pretending forever…

Twenty-one-year-old Jess used to have everything—a loyal best friend, a boyfriend she loved, and a future that was right on track. But in a single night, her whole world changed.

Now, Jess lives for the impersonal connection of drunken hook-ups and to-go coffee cups in the morning. All she needs is one night to pretend everything is fine…until she meets Adam.

Thanks to a sports injury, gorgeous, charming basketball star Adam Carson is stuck in physical therapy at the hospital where Jess interns—giving her the perfect opportunity to see his sweet, considerate nature and making her realize that maybe she does want something more.

But while Adam might be the best thing that’s happened to Jess in a long time, letting him past her carefully constructed walls means letting him know what happened...and why he'd never want her for more than one night.

One Night by A.J. Pine

My Thoughts:  One Night by A.J. Pine is the story of Adam, injured star of his college basketball team, and Jess, physical therapy student with a broken past and huge commitment issues. When Jess is assigned to work with Adam during her physical therapy rotation, things begin slowly and innocently enough. As with many relationships, friendship-feelings turn into stronger feelings, which means that Jess is forced to confront her issues if she wants to keep this guy that she loves. 

This book is enjoyable with fun characters. It's a quick read and progresses well. It is an issue book. I enjoy stories with a "broken" character, in which one of the love interests (or sometimes both) has to help the other through some past issue. In this case, Jess is the one with the issues, fairly big ones, and Adam is the super-sweet and patient guy that is willing to work with her through them. 

And I like Adam for this. Although Jess is very slow to talk to Adam about her past, he accepts her and never judges her. He takes her friends as his own, and is really the picture of what I would consider a swoony college guy. He is a great athlete too, not too overbearing, but really very cool. 

Jess, though. Phew. She has had some things happen to her that are really just awful and I truly feel for her, but she just frustrates me so many times. Her behaviors are like a roller-coaster with regard to the feelings of her friends, very up-and-down, and if I personally was frustrated with her, then they certainly must have felt frustrated. 

But the way Jess connects with people is a huge part of the story. 

THIS is something that Author AJ Pine wrote so well, I think, Jess' disconnect. I honestly have no idea how it would feel to go through any of the things that Jess went through, nor deal with the aftermath of anything like it. But I could feel her struggle, I think, and how she just pushed everyone away. She felt fear: fear of life repeating itself, fear of rejection, fear of getting too close, fear of everything. While I couldn't stand what Jess was doing as a result of all of this, I LOVED that I had the strong reactions that I did, and I think it was great story-telling to bring that out. 

And yes, Jess has development and growth. I'm glad for this. There is support written into the story with her family and friends. Her roommate Zoe is fantastic, love her! Along with Adam, Zoe is my favorite part of the book. 

I'm looking forward to Zoe's story because she's such a neat character. I recommend One Night by A.J. Pine to readers that enjoy contemporary romance with issues, great friendships, and stories with sports in them (Adam plays basketball!). 


One Night will appeal to fans of:

Contemporary Romance with Issues
Romance: No triangle.
Sports: Basketball
Great Friendships

One Night by A.J. Pine
is currently available for purchase.  


The Only You Series: 


I wonder if there will be more books in this series!? 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review | Some Luck by Jane Smiley

Some Luck by Jane Smiley 
Series: Last Hundred Years #1
Published by Knopf
Publish Date: October 7, 2014

Source: Library
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 

On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different yet equally remarkable children: Frank, the brilliant, stubborn first-born; Joe, whose love of animals makes him the natural heir to his family's land; Lillian, an angelic child who enters a fairy-tale marriage with a man only she will fully know; Henry, the bookworm who's not afraid to be different; and Claire, who earns the highest place in her father's heart. 

Moving from post-World War I America through the early 1950s, Some Luck gives us an intimate look at this family's triumphs and tragedies, zooming in on the realities of farm life, while casting-as the children grow up and scatter to New York, California, and everywhere in between-a panoramic eye on the monumental changes that marked the first half of the twentieth century. Rich with humor and wisdom, twists and surprises, Some Luck takes us through deeply emotional cycles of births and deaths, passions, and betrayals, displaying Smiley's dazzling virtuosity, compassion, and understanding of human nature and the nature of history, never discounting the role of fate and chance. This potent conjuring of many lives across generations is a stunning tour de force... (Goodreads)

Some Luck by Jane Smiley 

My Thoughts:  When I began this book, I was worried that its slower pace and the unique style of writing might be off-putting; I was wrong. These things were actually what made me fall in love with this story. 

Some Luck by Jane Smiley is the first installment in the Last Hundred Years Series, tackling one-third of the one hundred years covered in the completed series. Each chapter (1920-1953 in this installment) corresponds to one year and includes highlights from that year, as told from the perspective of varying members of the Langdon Family.

The book begins with Walter and Rosanna Langdon, young farmers from Iowa. As their family grows over the course of the story, so does technology, which changes the way that they farm. Also in a constant state of change is history itself, with the Depression and the world's political climate. Each chapter affords readers the chance to see this growing family respond to changes in farming (technological and from generation to generation) plus readers get to see how a typical American family handles different historical events from where they were in small-town Iowa. 

Although there is no huge action in this book, there is no huge build-up or climax, I felt enamored with these people and how they did day-to-day life in this time that I can only experience through media like books etc. With each chapter, I grew more and more attached, particularly to certain family members. 

The thing about a book being this long and that it is long and detailed. What I mean is: with each chapter taking on one complete calendar-year, it is impossible to really know what is going on with the family in any detail. We get a little bit about a lot of time. I don't mind this at all. Selfishly, though, there are a few favorite characters that I wouldn't mind knowing more about. Because by the end of this installment, I feel like this is a family that I know in a strangely intimate way. 

I read this book very slowly. I took my time here, which is not something I usually do with historical stories like this. I started out listening to the audiobook (which is a great audiobook) while I followed along with the print, but I felt like I was going too fast, so I abandoned listening. It was with print-only reading that I felt like I was able to understand the characters so much more-their motives, their reasons, their actions, etc. 

I just loved this story so much. I would read it again in a heartbeat. I especially adored the parts that included the Depression-era farming, and the difficulties on the farm, and the difficulties with being a wife and mother of a farmer during the early 1900's. I could eat books like that for breakfast, and I can't imagine how I could love the next two books any more than this one, but if they are written in this way and if they continue with this family (which they are and they do), then I'm quite sure that I will. 

This is my first Jane Smiley book; I will read more. I will continue with this series because I need to know more about this family and what they will do and how they will continue to react to history changing. 

(I understand this book's length and structure being daunting to some but: I really could quit the series at the end of this book and be just fine. I think Some Luck by Jane Smiley would work just fine as a standalone. But I want to know more. )


Some Luck will appeal to fans of:

Historical Fiction
Great Setting: Denby, Iowa
Great Family Relationships
Great Sibling Relationships
Family Saga

Some Luck by Jane Smiley
is currently available for purchase.  


The Last Hundred Years Series: 

I didn't realize I would love this first installment so much! 
Reading it slowly was a very good decision. 

Aren't these covers SO GREAT together?