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Love.Life.Read

Come escape with me through reading...I read all sorts of books but mainly young adult, adult fiction, children's and nonfiction on a daily basis. You'll very rarely find me without a book by my side.
SPOILER ALERT!
Boundless - Cynthia Hand

Disclaimer:

What a gut wrenching ending to book two, Hallowed. This review will contain spoilers so if you have not read either Unearthly or especially Hallowed, continue at your own risk.



Story Breakdown:

Clara, having laid her mother to rest, knows she must keeping forging her path. Her brother Jeffrey has disappeared but she knows she must continue on with Angela and Christian to Stanford University. She has let to go of Tucker knowing he will not be safe if he is with her. 

Clara and Jeffrey’s father makes an appearance in Hallowed, with them learning that they are in fact Triplare, a rare and powerful form of angel bloods. While her mother is gone, Clara’s father begins to train her for what he knows she must face. While she works with her father, Clara requests that Christian also train with them since he has had visions of wielding the glory sword. While Christian undoubtedly wishes he and Clara could be together, Clara cannot help but still be drawn to Tucker time and time again.

Jeffrey and Angela fight not to loose themselves in Boundless. Jeffrey has disappeared, occasionally meeting up with Clara. He is struggling with trying to move forward with his life. Angela reveals she is pregnant. Clara knows Angela is at risk as well as her baby, as the baby is a Triplare and could tip the scales in favor of the Watchers if her baby is not kept safe. 

Freshman year is anything but simple and low key. Clara and Christian risk themselves to rescue Angela's baby from the Watchers who come to collect him for the dark side. Clara cannot let Angela go either so she once again journeys to hell risking her life to save Angela and her brother. Clara must gather herself, all that she has learned from her mother, father, Christian and Tucker in order to stand up to those who want to see her fail and join the Sorrowful Ones. 


My Thoughts:

Having been immersed in Hallowed, I could not wait to begin Boundless. With having lost her mother, Clara shows how strong she is in spirit as she continues to move forward day by day. She is such an amazing character—I am thrilled that we get to see more of her strength and determination throughout this novel. I have to say Clara has easily become one of my favorite characters. I have thumbed back through all the books to re-read favorite passages—a hallmark of a great book to me.

If there is one thing I would wish is that Christian is not left hurting as much as he seems to be. I know that he must find his calling and someone to share his life with based on this tweet:

 

I know I for one would LOVE to have a novella or book with Christian’s story. I truly hope that Ms. Hand comes back to the Unearthly series characters to continue their stories. There are lines that could be picked up should she elect but we shall see. 

Reader’s Advisory Notes:

  • Genre Fans: Young Adult; Fantasy; Supernatural; Romance
  • Series Fans: the final in the Unearthly trilogy 
  • Themes: good versus evil; love; friendships; death
  • Content Concerns: some violence; some religious discussions; unplanned pregnancy 
 

My Final Thoughts:

Whatever happens, I truly hope that Ms. Hand continues to write as I have thoroughly enjoyed the Unearthly series.
Source: http://www.loveliferead.com/2013/09/boundless-by-cynthia-hand.html
Belladonna - Fiona Paul OMG--I LOVE this title!! I am looking forward to the third title...review coming shortly
Unearthly - Cynthia Hand Come Join Along in the Radical Read-Along with me and other bloggers! More information can be found at Love.Life.Read.
Starcrossed - Josephine Angelini My Thoughts:

I am drawn to stories with mythology elements and I have to say, Ms. Angelini’s Starcrossed as quickly become one of my favorites. Mythology stories are by no means unique, what I appreciated and enjoyed about this one is Ms. Angelini’s take feels refreshing and not a story that happens to have mythological elements. Within Starcrossed, the mythology is woven into the story and it is integral to it—it does not feel like an afterthought or a jumping on the bandwagon type of book either. It helps to propel the story forward.

This is the first book in a trilogy and I am anxious to continue reading the series. I will be interested to see how Helen and Lucas continue to evolve, especially with the cliffhanger at the end of Book One. The next one is Dreamless and the series is finished up with Goddess, which was published on May 23rd.

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Dirty Little Secret - Jennifer Echols Story Breakdown:

At one time, Bailey and her younger sister Julie used to play the bluegrass festival with their parents. They had dreams of being discovered together, getting that record deal to take them to the next level. What happens though, instead of them being signed as a duo, Julie is signed and the record company advises their parents to keep Bailey in the background essentially.

Bailey is sent to live with her grandfather after senior year in high school. Rebelling during senior year, Bailey admits she made some wrong choices in hopes of getting her parents to pay attention to her. When her grandfather helps her to get a job as a traveling musician in the mall tribute bands, Bailey jumps at the chance to play her fiddle. During her first week she meets Sam, a boy with undeniable talent. He convinces her to play in his band, convinced she is what they need to take his band to the next level.

During their playing together, Sam and Bailey cannot deny their growing attraction. Bailey has not really dated until this past year and it was with loser guys. Sam does not seem like such a guy but then she finds out that he jumps from one girl to the next. Both of them carry a hurt so deep that it will take them standing up to themselves and their parents to be able to take that next step in their lives.

My Thoughts:

This is the first time I have read anything by Ms. Echols though I have had her other titles on my to-be-read list for ages. I was immediately drawn to this after reading the synopsis and I am happy to say that this book lived up to the description and more. The emotions that Bailey and Sam emit are so authentic and believable that I felt like I was living through it with them. Each time I had to put the book down to carry on with real life had me starring longingly at it, wishing I could immerse myself with Bailey, Sam and their passion for music again.

See more of this review at Love.Life.Read. (www.loveliferead.com)
Star Cursed - Jessica Spotswood Loved it! I cannot wait to put this in the hands of my readers at the library. :)
Game. Set. Match. - Jennifer Iacopelli Where do I start with this book? How about simply—I LOVE It!

If you are looking for a great summer read, I would like to highly recommend this book to you. If you like a great romance story, then this has it for you. If you like a sports story that is easy to read whether or not you have ever held a tennis rack--then I would nominate this title. If you are looking for something to escape with for a few moments, then this might just be your ticket to leave on a trip. Whatever reason you are looking for to pick up a book, than Game. Set. Match has a good chance of fulfilling it.

The characters are fantastic and different from each other. The three main girls, Indy, Penny and Jasmine are at different points in their lives and careers and each handles it differently. Penny is the new darling of tennis. Indy is the one to be looking out for now that she is pursuing her dream and Jasmine is at a point where she has to make a change in order to keep playing. The first book in the series explores as each of these ladies take on tennis—and the guys of OBX.

The guys: Alex aka the comeback tennis star; Jack aka the agent and brother to Penny; Teddy aka the “normal Harrison,” Penny’s twin and complete ladies man are the love interests, liven things up in this book and keep it moving. Alex and Penny have a past and now they are trying to figure out if they can be together. Indy just wants Jack to admit he feels their undeniable chemistry while poor Jasmine wants her best friend to finally move her out of the friend column and into the girlfriend column. I am looking forward to the second book to see how all these relationships progress. No matter who is your favorite player, couple, guy or gal, there will be a character that you will want to support.

The story moves along quickly and does not get held up by too much description of the tennis matches or practices—I personally found it intriguing. I am not an expert in tennis so I cannot speak to the authenticity of the technically aspects of tennis. All I know is that the characters latched into me and stayed with me after I put down the book. My only thing I would change about it? It ended way too soon! I am looking forward to the second book in this series, which I hope will be out by the end of the summer!
Georgetown Academy: Season One - Alyssa Embree Schwartz,  Jessica Koosed Etting I am beyond thrilled that Coliloquy has decided to put together Season One. The four individual books are each well done, that having them all together in one convenient eBook makes the series that much more addictive!

Love politics? Well this book is for you as it delves into politics from those who live it both from the public perception and from behind the scenes. BUT politics is not the only thing that is in this book! Readers who appreciate drama, friendships, relationships, mystery, intrigue, humor, moments of success and failure will find something in Season One. Because the authors are screenwriters as well, the books lend themselves to those who are fans of popular shows such as Gossip Girl, 90210, Pretty Little Liars and Secret Life of an American Teenager (just to name a few), as the situations and details presented in the book are so vivid, you will feel like you are reading a television show.

This is a perfect book to take with you to the beach, get loss in after a hectic day of work, school, on a commute or just because you want to have a great time reading. You won’t be sorry—pick up Georgetown Academy Season One today for a delightful and entertaining time.

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It Had to Be You  - Jill Shalvis The latest in the Lucky Harbor series, this time we get to meet Ali and Luke. Both are down on their luck in the sense that life is not working out how they thought it would go. Ali grew up in less than ideal situation with her mother and sister. Determine to make her way and find happiness, Ali settles in Lucky Harbor. When things seem to be looking up, imagine her surprise when she gets dumped via text message (of course this was after she heard her boyfriend going at it with someone else in his office).

Luke spent his summers in Lucky Harbor with his sister and grandparents while his parents participated in the Doctors Without Borders program. Life has taken him to San Francisco as a detective and when a high profile case ends badly, Luke retreats to Lucky Harbor. There he tries to come to grips with what happened and to recharge before going back at it. Imagine his surprise when he shows up at his house to find Ali in her underwear in his kitchen.

The two are further thrust together as Ali battles to keep the reporters going after Luke at bay and when she is unjustly accused of taking the senior center’s money, Luke stands by her side when others doubt her. Luke’s detective gut is in full swing and despite only knowing her a short time, he KNOWS Ali is telling the truth. They set out to figure out who stole the money and along the way, discover perhaps what they were looking for really was each other.

Full of likeable characters, a wonderful heated romance, tender moments and moments of pain and growth, It Had to Be You is a perfect edition to the Lucky Harbor series. Ms. Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor is the quintessential small town—where everyone knows you and your business. Despite the characters of the series shifting in and out of the books, the town is at the root of the stories and lends continuity to it.

While the characters change focus, the rich characters prevalent in the series hold true in this latest edition. Ali and Luke feel like the couple next door or a coworker you could have on any given day. What I like most is Ms. Shalvis’ characters are not the type to have everything smelling like roses or their life is all peaches and cream—they experience what feels like real life. That their troubles, could be our own and that their emotions are how we would respond if we ever found ourselves in a similar situation. They make mistakes, act ridiculous cry, love and all the while seem authentic. That, to me, is a true mark of a wonderful author. I look forward to reading the next two books in the Lucky Harbor series this summer.
Altered - Jennifer Rush Imagine learning that everything you remember is false. For Sam, Trev, Nick and Cass all they have ever known is the basement cells in Anna’s farmhouse. Anna does not remember much other than the boys being in her basement. When the agency shows up to remove the boys from the farmhouse, imagine Anna’s surprise when her father tells her to go and stay with Sam. They escape and while on the run they try to put the pieces of their lives back together because all they know is what they know is not the full story or even half way to the truth.

Full of mystery and intrigue, romance and heartache and characters you will love and hate, this book has something for most readers. This is a fast paced thriller set in current day United States, making it instantly relatable and easy to get swept away with it. The twists and turns and the highs and lows will keep readers engaged until the very end.

The characters are what make this story—Anna and Sam are the heart of the story. Drawn to each other when neither believes it is okay, the two will give their life up to keep the other safe. The secondary characters are equally as well developed. I wanted to hate Anna’s father, Nick and eventually Trev, but I know their circumstances has made them what they are today. They will resonate with you long after you put the book down.

I am thrilled that the story will continue in Erased, due out in January. Ms. Rush has made me an instant fan and I cannot wait to read the rest of the books in this series.
Georgetown Academy: Book Four - Alyssa Embree Schwartz, Jessica Koosed Etting Review originally posted at Love.Life.Read

The Georgetown Academy books just keep getting better and better. At the end of Book Three, we are left with a cliffhanger for Taryn and Ellie. We learn in Book Four that their lives are going to forever change—Taryn’s father and Ellie’s mother have made the short list to take over as Vice President. Once again they are pitted against each as their parents do battle to win the approval of their peers and the President in order to take over the second highest office in the country.

All the girls are dealing with some sort of drama—how could it be high school at Georgetown Academy otherwise? Ellie is dealing with her mother’s candidacy for Vice President and her desire to go public with her relationship with Gabe. While she wants it desperately, how could she go public with her mother’s nemesis’ son? Will she listen to her heart or sacrifice for herself for her mother’s campaign again?

Taryn knows her relationship with Gabe is over and on top of it, she cannot get over her feelings for Brooks. When her father hires Brook’s father to help him get the candidacy for Vice President, they are drawn together even more. When Taryn begins to lose herself to be the press-perfect daughter, will Brooks be able to pull her back? And what will happen if they finally admit that they have feelings for each other?

Brinley seems to have her head on straight. She had the hook up with the townie during the ski trip but that’s over—right? Patrick is flirting (and a side benefit is it makes Brooks mad), and she should be interested but she cannot get Shane out of her head. Will she continue on the Madison pathway or veer off to follow her own path?

Lastly, is the good girl Evan. She has the popular boyfriend and suddenly she is dealing with being the it-girl she never thought she would be at Georgetown Academy. When she accidentally takes some drug-laced candies, will she be able to earn back the trust of her parents? Will Hunter and her stay together after this horrible headline making incident?

How can you not like girls and guys of Georgetown Academy? These books are pure fun mixed with real life in a perfect setting for all the drama. They are normal young adults dealing with high and lows of life including boys, pressures of being popular/fitting in/being perfect and finding themselves in the chaotic world of Washington D.C. Whether you want to be right there with them or far, far away from it, you will want to jump into these books and fall in love with Ellie, Brinley, Evan and Hunter.

Smart Girls Get What They Want - Sarah Strohmeyer This tale of friendship, relationships and redefining yourself without losing your true self is a sure fire hit. Gigi, Bea and Neerja have always idolized Neerja’s older sister. She was at the top of her high school class and got accepted into an Ivy League college—everything the girls are striving for themselves. When they discovered Neerja’s secret, they realized that maybe being at the top academically when having to sacrifice everything for it, is not all that they thought.

They make a bargain with each other to try new things during their sophomore year. Bea and Gigi end up joining the ski team; Neerja the school play and Gigi runs for student representative on the city council. While breaking out of their shells, the four of them learn that being smart is one thing but standing up for themselves, what they believe in and that they need to give others a chance are equally as important to staying at the top of their class.

This is such an amusing and lighthearted read filled with laugh-out-loud moments, light romance and positive role models. I enjoyed the well developed characters, especially the growth that we can see in Gigi. She does not have it all figured out by the end of the book but she definitely has learned not to judge others which is an important lesson for us all to remember.

I enjoy Ms. Strohmeyer’s writing style—it is witty, well paced and engaging. I look forward to reading her second young adult contemporary novel--How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True, which came out in April. To me, her first novel had everything I hoped it would have in this type of contemporary fiction and I hope I will find the same in the next one.

Read more of my reviews at Love.Life.Read
Nantucket Blue - Leila Howland Visit Love.Life.Read for more of my reviews.

Cricket is flying high at the end of her junior year. Her best friend’s family invited her to come to Nantucket with them for the summer but then tragedy strikes the family in pieces. Feeling as if she needs to be there for her best friend, Cricket travels to Nantucket to only get rejected by Jules. Not being able to stay with her nor did she have the nanny job she thought she would be doing this summer, Cricket ends up working and living in one of the historic inns as a chambermaid and eventually an intern. Life is not going as she planned but something else begins to happen when Zach stops being just Jules younger brother.

Zach is rocked to the core when his mother passes away. Jules and his father are coping in their own way—meaning not being able to breathe a word about their beloved Nina. Cricket is the only one who is willing to talk about her. The sparks fly between the two of them but they know their relationship cannot be out in the open—right?

Cricket is a wonderful protagonist and is instantly relatable and likable. She is battling her own parents divorce plus her dad's new family, the death of her pseudo-mom and her crush on Jay, the popular boy from her school’s rival. Feeling that she would be best to support her friend in Nantucket, she is shocked and disheartened when she learns that her friend lied to her.

Zach is a great love interest. Despite being two grades younger than Cricket, he does not come off as the younger guy. Their bond over Zach’s mother and then the spark that happens between them on Fourth of July will forever change their relationship. He does not come off as a “typical” teenage guy—he is more in touch with his emotions and feelings but I liked that characteristic as it makes for a good fit with Cricket.

It is intriguing that he is the younger of the two—not too many books have the guy being younger, especially a sophomore to a senior. I like that Cricket is able to grow, learn and stand up for herself at the end of the summer/book. Jules made me mad, frustrated and sad because she is so utterly completely lost that I cannot help but wonder if she will be alright in the end. Nantucket Blue is a perfect book to read just in time for summer—this book is a delightful and touching book about overcoming trials, standing up for yourself and getting what you want in the end. I highly recommend this contemporary fiction for its touching moments and sweet romance. It is a perfect summer read or for anytime when you want to cling to summer or the moments of first love.
The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh (Cynster Sisters) - Stephanie Laurens Review to come
Georgetown Academy: Book Three - Jessica Koosed Etting,  Alyssa Embree Schwartz Escaping the world of D.C., you think that the Vermont ski trip would help alleviate some of the pressure and political play, right? Heck no—the antics are still going strong and provide many laugh out loud and cringe worthy moments.

The four main girls are moving on with their lives. Ellie has met Weston and is trying to move on from Hunter and forget Gabe. Brinley has recovered from her collapse at Follow the Stars, but can she handle the pressure that led her to drugs in the first place? Taryn has won the guy—but why is he not willing to define their relationship? And Evan, she gets caught up helping Luke hide his secret instead of finally being able to hook up with Hunter. Is everyone going to go their way? Heck no!

I like the internal growth that the characters are going through, also. Ellie is starting to come into her own—I like that she is starting to stand up for herself (both with Hunter and Weston for instance). Brinley, too, seems to be moving in a better direction. She definitely came off as the typically entitled girl at first but, I love the depth that is being written into her character, especially in this book. Evan—I am so thrilled that is she finally pursued Hunter in this book! I just hope he behaves and treats her well. With Taryn, I feel bad for her because she is into Gabe but, he is so not over Ellie. I hope that she is able to keep her strong sense of self and not conform in Book Four. All four of them try to control their lives because of the nature of their upbringing—but everyone keeps getting in their way. It will be interesting to see if they are able to take greater control on their lives or if others will be able to keep them off their desired paths.

This is my favorite Georgetown Academy book thus far. It is entertaining and at the same time, has moments to ponder. It will be interesting to see what happens in Book Four now that the stars seem to be aligning for all the couples to get together….but could it be that simple? Hmm….only reading Book Four will tell.

Find more of my reviews at Love.Life.Read.
Georgetown Academy: Book One - Jessica Koosed Etting,  Alyssa Embree Schwartz 4.5 stars actually...

My Thoughts:

Most students think of the first day of school as being in August or September but for the students of Georgetown Academy, it is the first day of school after winter break…when the power of DC shifts into the newly elected (or reelected) government officials and their staffs.

The book centers on four girls: Ellie, Brinley, Evan and Taryn. Each offers unique perspectives and personalities, which is great. I think it was intriguing to see how politics plays into their lives—I mean when your parents are some of the most powerful figures in our country, how could it not? Of course added into the mix is the typical high school drama: boys, school, parents and friend drama. Only though instead of just a few people knowing you messed up, imagine when it makes national headlines!

This was a great, fun read! There is an interactive component in the story in which you can read about one girl’s perspective of a specific moment or all four of them. :) It took me back to the days when I used to read the “Choose Your Own Adventure Books.” It reminds me a bit of the other “it-girl” novels—in a good way! I would hands down recommend this title to any reluctant readers out there. It moves quickly and the interactive feature is a fresh component. I hope that perhaps one day they will come out in paperback format so those who do not have eReaders can enjoy the story as much as I do.