Before the Blog: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

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Before the Blog is a weekly blog meme hosted by Karis Jacobstein over @ YA Litwit. It’s an opportunity to showcase books a blogger read and loved prior to starting their blog .  I love this idea because there are so many amazing books I haven’t reviewed on A Novel Glimpse because I read them a long time ago. The only rules to this meme are to answer the following questions about the book chosen to review:

  • Why did you choose this book? 
  • When did you read this book? 
  • Who would you recommend this book to? 

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Publication Date: January 1, 2008

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Little Bee, a young Nigerian refugee, has just been released from the British immigration detention center where she has been held under horrific conditions for the past two years, after narrowly escaping a traumatic fate in her homeland of Nigeria. Alone in a foreign country, without a family member, friend, or pound to call her own, she seeks out the only English person she knows. Sarah is a posh young mother and magazine editor with whom Little Bee shares a dark and tumultuous past.

They first met on a beach in Nigeria, where Sarah was vacationing with her husband, Andrew, in an effort to save their marriage after an affair, and their brief encounter has haunted each woman for two years. Now together, they face a disturbing past and an uncertain future with the help of Sarah’s four-year-old son, Charlie, who refuses to take off his Batman costume. A sense of humor and an unflinching moral compass allow each woman, and the reader, to believe that even in the face of unspeakable odds, humanity can prevail.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Why did you choose this book? 

I remember the back of the cover saying the less you knew about the story the better. It was true. The way the story unfolded was very different and cool at the time I read it. I also remember describing it to my mom and she told me it sounded horrible. It wasn’t, though.

 When did you read this book? 

2008 or 2009, I think. It was BGR (before I was on Goodreads).

Who would you recommend this book to?

Adult readers that enjoy a darker story.

ARC Review: S.O.B by J.C. Valentine

S.O.B by J.C. Valentine

Publication Date: November 10, 2015

Publisher: J.C. Valentine

Note: **This novel is for MATURE ADULT READERS only. It contains explicit sexual content and alcohol use.**

Synopsis:

If there’s one person Vista Marquis never wants to see again, it’s Levi Black. It’s been years since she’s seen Levi, but she still isn’t over the way he broke her heart. Vista thought they had a special connection, but all Levi wanted was to add her name to the list of notches on his bedpost.

It might have been easier to move on if Levi wasn’t a famous soccer player — and her stepbrother. Not only does Vista have to hear all about him from her mother, she gets to see and hear about him and his woman of the moment in every celebrity gossip report.

Now, in order to establish her own physical therapy business, Vista is being forced to return home to Chicago and face the one man who has broken her heart. It’s going to be her job to make sure Levi recovers from his most current soccer injury. She plans on keeping things strictly professional. All she has to do is avoid Levi’s womanizing charms.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


I’m going to have to admit that I wasn’t so sure what I was going to think of S.O.B prior to reading it. I love J.C. Valentine’s writing and the creative situations she comes up with, but I was curious to see how she was going to set this one up. I had never read a step-brother/step-sister romance before. I was worried it might be too taboo, too pseudo-incestuous for my tastes.

S.O.B was neither of those two things. Levi and Vista were not blood related. They were not even raised together. They lived in the same house for a short period of time before their parents married. That was shortly before Vista left for college. Basically, they were “brother and sister” through their parents marriage alone. They didn’t even share the same last name.

S.O.B felt more like a second chance erotic romance than a taboo love story. Levi was a cocky, famous athlete who walked away from the one girl he really wanted. Vista was a strong, independent female determined to make her own way. She wasn’t going to fall for the one man who shattered her heart at eighteen.

Levi and Vista’s reconnection was sexy and steamy. The chemistry between these two was off the charts! Levi was just the right amount of cocky and exactly what I would expect a sports star to be. He also had a sweet softer side when it came to Vista that I adored. I loved how strong Vista was. It was really cool that J.C. Valentine didn’t let her back down from standing up to Levi. Her backbone was one of my favorite thing about her.

The book wasn’t just filled with steamy moments, though. S.O.B had a great storyline. It was a lot of fun and cute at times.There were even a few surprises that I didn’t see coming. I enjoyed watching the entire story unfold.

If you’re looking for an erotic romance with a fun storyline, I would recommend S.O.B. It’s a fun, steamy read.

**I received an electronic copy of S.O.B from the author in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams & Lauren Willig

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig

Publication Date: January 19, 2016

Publisher: NAL

Synopsis:

In 1945, it’s rare for women to be doctors. Dr. Kate Schuyler must dedicate her life to medicine to be taken seriously. She works in Manhattan at an old mansion that has been turned into a hospital.

When injured Captain Cooper Ravenel arrives at the hospital, Kate can’t help but be drawn to him. She feels like she’s known him forever. The feeling is intensified by a portrait in the captain’s possession. A portrait that looks very much like Kate. Not only does the woman look like Kate, she is wearing a ruby necklace exactly like the one Kate’s mother gave her.

As Kate and Cooper start to search for the truth behind the mysterious painting, they begin to uncover stories of the past. The stories involve Kate’s grandmother Olive, her mother Lucy and the wealthy Pratt family.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Karen White is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is beautiful. I love how she mixes past and present, mystery, romance and history all into one amazing story. I was very excited to read her collaboration with Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. I haven’t read these authors before, so I was excited to read their work in combination with an author I love.The combination of the three authors was seamless. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell the story was written by three people.

The Forgotten Room was so interesting to read. I loved the way the three different characters and time frames were woven together. It kept my attention and kept me wondering what had happened in Olive’s Gilded Age and Lucy’s Jazz Age. I wanted to know how all three women were tied together. The authors did an amazing job doling out pieces of information a little at a time to keep the story fresh and entertaining.

My favorite thing about this book was that not all of the secrets were easy to guess. Just when I would think I had something figured out, I would learn something that changed how I saw the characters.

If you’re looking for a wonderful historical romance / mystery to read, I would highly suggest The Forgotten Room.

**I received an electronic copy of The Forgotten Room from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Before the Blog: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

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Before the Blog is a weekly blog meme hosted by Karis Jacobstein over @ YA Litwit. It’s an opportunity to showcase books a blogger read and loved prior to starting their blog .  I love this idea because there are so many amazing books I haven’t reviewed on A Novel Glimpse because I read them a long time ago. The only rules to this meme are to answer the following questions about the book chosen to review:

  • Why did you choose this book? 
  • When did you read this book? 
  • Who would you recommend this book to? 

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Publication Date: August 6, 2009

Publisher: Orion

Goodreads Synopsis:

The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family—including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister—have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.

Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it’s a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd’s father died: She’s pregnant.

This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper’s most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind—whether we like it or not.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Why did you choose this book? 

I remember thinking it was pretty hilarious when I read it. I thought they did a pretty good job on the movie version released last year, but (of course) the book was better.

 When did you read this book? 

2009 or 2010. I’m not sure exactly. I picked it up at Borders Books when it was on the new(er) releases shelf.

Who would you recommend this book to?

Adults that enjoy a good, comical book.

Wicked Restless by Ginger Scott

Wicked Restless (Harper Boys #2) by Ginger Scott

Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Synopsis:

Andrew Harper knows what people in his small town say about his family. His brother, Owen,  may have tried to protect him from the rumors and hurt, but Owen’s gone now. Andrew’s on his own now to prove everyone wrong.

Then, Andrew meets new girl Emma Burke at school. She’s the most beautiful girl Andrew’s ever seen. She’s also smart and sweet. Emma’s heard the rumors, but she doesn’t seem to care. It makes being stuck in the small town of Woodstock bearable.

Emma may not be the talk of the town, but she has problems of her own to deal with. Problems she’s keeping secret from Andrew. She knows she needs to tell him, but she just wants to be a normal teen for a while.

As Andrew and Emma are quickly falling for each other, they will be faced with a choice that will change the directions of their lives forever. Their choices will not only divide them but ruin them.

Five years later, Andrew can’t let go of the pain. He’s hurt and angry.

Andrew always wondered what he would do when he saw Emma again. Now, he knows: get revenge. He has the perfect opportunity to do it and he’s going to take it. But as he puts his plan in motion, the truth of what happened all those years ago starts to present itself — along with feelings he thought were long gone.

If Andrew and Emma can’t make peace with their past, they may lose out on their future.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Wicked Restless is the second book in the Harper Boys series. I couldn’t wait to read it because I absolutely loved the first book, Wild Reckless. (You can read my review here, if you’re interested.) Wild Reckless was about Owen Harper, while Wicked Restless is about his younger brother, Andrew. Each book can be read as a standalone, but there are some things that carry over from Wild Reckless to Wicked Restless.

Dude, socks. If you just wore socks, this wouldn’t have happened.

Wicked Restless started out sweet, cute and funny like many YA contemporary romances. Andrew and Emma’s instant connection during P.E. class is funny and cute. I was so excited for this couple!

“I want this girl to be the girl – my girl. The one I take to things and experience everything with.”

Then, everything gets all complicated and messed up. It turns into the angst filled NA romance I was expecting. It plays with my emotions in ways I didn’t expect.

The decisions Andrew and Emma make tear them apart. It tore me apart! It was heart breaking to read. I hurt for Andrew. He was trying to be such a good person and all it did was prove the rumors true. I couldn’t help but dislike Emma. I felt like she ruined his life. I kind of hated her. I honestly wondered how Ginger Scott could ever redeem her at this point.

Flash forward five years. Andrew has changed. He’s no longer trying to prove he’s not what people think he is. Andrew runs into Emma again. Understandably, he hates her and wants revenge. (I kind of want revenge on her myself!) He doesn’t care about anything but making Emma suffer.

It’s from this moment that every choice Andrew makes is gut wrenching for me to read. I didn’t like what the past five years had done to him. It was so sad to see who Andrew had become. When Andrew takes his anger out on Emma, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. I went quickly from hating her to understanding her. I wanted Andrew to understand her, too. I wanted the sweet and innocent Andrew back.

I’m not going to give anything else away from the story. Just know that I absolutely loved Wicked Restless. It played with my emotions in so many different ways. One minute, I was happy. The next, I was angry. It went on the entire book! Everything felt so intense. At times, the story took turns I wasn’t quite sure I believed. That didn’t matter, though; Ginger Scott’s writing is so good and packed with so much emotion that I could look past those things. Wicked Restless was an amazing follow up to Wild Reckless. Now, I hope Ms. Scott will give us a spin off in the form of Andrew’s roommate, Trent. Love that dude.

If you are a NA reader looking for an emotionally intense series filled with beautiful writing, I would highly suggest Ginger Scott’s Harper Boys series.

Other books in this series:

ARC Review: How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

 How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

Publication Date: November 3, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Synopsis:

Georgia isn’t excited about starting her senior year of high school. She just lost her mother and isn’t quite sure how to go on. Her mother left her a letter telling Georgia who her mother would like her to be. Mostly, she wants Georgia to be brave and have the courage to try new things.

With the help of her best friend, Liss, Georgia decides to make a “Live Life List.” Together, they set out to complete the list. But nothing goes as easily as planned and soon Georgia find her life going places she never wanted it to go. Friendships are ruined, hearts are broken and trust is gone.

Georgia must be brave and take the steps necessary to put her life back together again.


My rating: 3 out of 5 stars


“It’s not you, it’s me.”

I feel like that pretty much sums up how I feel about How to Be Brave.

How to Be Brave started out strong. I really felt for Georgia and could identify with her. The writing was great. I loved the way Georgia’s memories were poetic. The issues in the story were important and relatable.  Then, it lost my attention fairly quickly.

To be honest, I think it was the tone of the book. It started out sad but optimistic. I was excited to see how Georgia was going to take her mom’s words of wisdom and where she would go from there. I had high hopes.

How to Be Brave just didn’t meet them. Instead of being a hopeful book about seizing life, it became Georgia’s decent into mischief and misery. It was depressing. While I understand why it took this direction, it wasn’t fun to read — at least for me. I kept reading in hopes that things would pick up and get better for Georgia. They did, but it just didn’t feel real to me. It felt like even her future might be depressing. I wanted to be uplifted. I wanted to see major growth throughout the entire book.

Something was just lacking for me in How to Be Brave. I have a feeling other readers are going to love this book. It was a good book — I just think it wasn’t for me.

**I received a copy of How to Be Brave from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Before the Blog: Left Drowning by Jessica Park

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Before the Blog is a weekly blog meme hosted by Karis Jacobstein over @ YA Litwit. It’s an opportunity to showcase books a blogger read and loved prior to starting their blog .  I love this idea because there are so many amazing books I haven’t reviewed on A Novel Glimpse because I read them a long time ago. The only rules to this meme are to answer the following questions about the book chosen to review:

  • Why did you choose this book? 
  • When did you read this book? 
  • Who would you recommend this book to? 

Left Drowning by Jessica Park

Publication Date: July 16, 2013

Publisher: Skyscape

Goodreads Synopsis:

Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.

*This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and sexual content.
Note: due to mature content recommended for Ages 17+


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Why did you choose this book? 

Because I loved it. It’s that simple, really.

Left Drowning was one of the first NA books I ever read. I was shocked at the amount of emotion it had me feeling. After reading it, I wanted to find more books like it. It’s still one of my favorite books. I was so happy when Jessica Park released the sequel, Restless Waters this fall. (Find my review here.)

When did you read this book? 

October of 2013

Who would you recommend this book to?

Readers who like emotionally packed books filled with damaged characters trying to heal. Also, readers who enjoy books by Colleen Hoover, Ginger Scott and Amy Harmon.

Outspoken

Outspoken by Lora Richardson

Publication Date: Agust 18, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace

Synopsis:

One thing Penny has never been in life is outspoken. She’s always gone with the flow and done what everyone wanted her to do. Others’ opinions have always mattered more than her own. But that’s going to change.

Penny’s going to spend her summer before (maybe) going to college at the beach in South Carolina. She’s going to leave her seven siblings and Montana hometown behind. She’s using checking up on her elderly grandfather as her excuse, but in reality Penny wants to break away from the person she was before. For once in her life, she’s going to be the person she wants to be. Penny’s going to be outspoken.

Just as Penny’s starting to gain her independence, she meets Archer. Everyone tells her to avoid him, but Penny feels drawn to him. While Penny’s trying to be her own person, she can’t help but worry about Archer’s opinion. Will her worrying about what Archer thinks be the end to her new life? Will she continue to be outspoken or will she revert to the girl who simply goes with the flow?


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Outspoken is a coming of age tale. It’s set in that time in life when a young adult is trying to find themselves and their voice. Penny’s no longer a child, but she’s not sure how to be an adult and stand up for herself yet.

Outspoken is one of those books that is harder for me to review. While I loved the story and writing, I disliked the main character Penny. She rubbed me the wrong way. I know she was trying to be truthful, but her delivery was lacking finesse. Everything that came out of her mouth was so negative. I know she was striving to speak her mind, but if she was a new friend of mine, our friendship wouldn’t last long. She never seemed like she even wanted to hang out with her new friends, Gwen and Marissa. She needed to learn giving in to spend time with her friends didn’t always equate to giving up a piece of herself. But that’s part of what this story was about, so I feel bad complaining! Penny was just trying to find her voice.

Despite my dislike for Penny, I did enjoy the storyline. I liked how she set out on her own to discover herself. What she was going through was very relatable. And Penny did have her redeeming moments. I could see a glimpse of the sweet person she was when she went above and beyond to help the people she met through her job at the grocery store. I also loved the way she wanted to take care of her grandfather, Cal. My favorite Penny was the person she was when she was with Archer. She seemed to find a happy medium when she was with him. She wasn’t quite as negative but she also didn’t lose herself in him. I wanted to read more of this Penny.

What I enjoyed most about Outspoken was the cast of supporting characters. I loved them all! Gwen and Marissa were a ton of fun. Archer was the silent, brooding “bad boy” with a lot of depth. All of Penny’s grocery delivery customers were interesting and added a ton of dimension to the story. Penny’s family seemed really fun, too. I would have liked to read more about them and their relationships with each other. I have a feeling they would have been a hilarious bunch.

So while I didn’t always enjoy Penny, I did always enjoy the story. I thought it was a great YA coming of age story about a girl on the path to adulthood trying to find herself. I think this book would be highly beneficial for young adults going through that time in their lives to read.

**I received an electronic copy of Outspoken from the author in exchange for an honest review.