Monday, April 24, 2017

Until It Fades - Review

Until It Fades

By: KA Tucker

Expected Publication: June 27th 2017 by Atria Books

320 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description-- Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania: population two thousand outside of tourist season.

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed attempt at a relationship, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has saved: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works.

For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. What begins as an immediate friendship quickly turns into something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something that Catherine is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

Until It Fades was a bit different from KA Tucker's last couple of books. It wasn't as dark or mysterious, instead Until It Fades was more hopeful and happy. It doesn't exactly start out that way though. The book begins with Catherine in high school. Without giving too much away, Catherine experiences something that makes her the talk of the town. She basically leaves her parents' home as soon as she turns eighteen, but that isn't the last of her being the talk of the town. She finds out that she's pregnant, and yet again she becomes the talk of the town. Catherine is the first to admit that her teen years were a bit troubled and now that six years have passed, she knows that she's changed a lot.

Beyond all the local gossip about Catherine, she really hasn't had it easy. Her relationship with her parents is strained at best. She's not without blame there also. She's working every day that she can for as long as she can to make ends me and provide a home for her daughter. And she's single momming it because Brenna's dad isn't around. But she has a few solid people in her corner, and her little girl makes life worth living. But there hasn't been a man in her life in a long time.

Brett was easy to like. He feels immense gratitude toward Catherine for saving his life, and that's kind of what starts their relationship off. Having this shared traumatic experience bonds them. They get to know each other and the relationship builds. Brett's a bit more game for things from the beginning, but Catherine's past makes it hard for her to trust Brett or his intentions. It takes a lot for her to open up and trust him, to trust that he likes her for her--ordinary as he may be--and trust that if she gives her heart to him that he's not going to rip it up and hand it back to her.

Until It Fades ended up being a feel good story for me. I enjoyed the process of Catherine and Brett developing their feelings for each other. I loved Catherine's relationship with her daughter, Brenna. I really liked her brother Jack so much that I wouldn't mind knowing more about him. Even though Brenna's relationship with her parents was rocky, I enjoyed that too. Brett's family was pretty awesome too considering their outstanding circumstances. I appreciated KA Tucker's positive use of God. Don't get confused, this isn't a religious story, but she mentioned God three times in a positive way and in today's culture and literature this was extremely refreshing for me. The physical scenes were scarce (but present), and the language was present also but not overwhelming. Until It Fades gets 4 Stars from me. Have you read Until It Fades? What did you think? Let me know!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Post - 244 & Stacking the Shelves - 194

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~ It's a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

This has been an exciting week! Wednesday we went to the doctor for our 12 week check up with BABY # 2! I used my Waiting on Wednesday post for this week to announce the pregnancy here on the blog. Not much else can trump that news. Little Girl spent the weekend with my parents. Husband and I are going on a small trip in June and I wanted to make sure she'd do fine spending more than one night away from home first. While she was visiting her grandparents Husband and I got a lot of outside work done around the house.

THIS PAST WEEK:

Monday: Review of Bang by Barry Lyga (4 Stars)
Tuesday: Top Ten Things That Make Me Want to Read a Book
Wednesday: Waiting on...Baby # 2

UPCOMING THIS WEEK:

Monday: Review of Until It Fades by KA Tucker
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday

Don’t forget to sign up for the 2017 Series Enders Reading Challenge! You have until December 15, 2017 to sign up. Each month there will be a giveaway for those participating with an end of the year giveaway too! Click on the picture below or the link above to find out more!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Bight Side (Bright Side, # 1)

By: Kim Holden

Published: July 4th 2014 by Do Epic LLC

423 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Personal Kindle Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Secrets.
Everyone has one.
Some are bigger than others.
And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you ...
And some will end you.

Kate Sedgwick’s life has been anything but typical. She’s endured hardship and tragedy, but throughout it all she remains happy and optimistic (there’s a reason her best friend Gus calls her Bright Side). Kate is strong-willed, funny, smart, and musically gifted. She’s also never believed in love. So when Kate leaves San Diego to attend college in the small town of Grant, Minnesota, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with Keller Banks.

They both feel it.
But they each have a reason to fight it.
They each have a secret.

And when secrets are revealed,
Some will heal you …
And some will end you.

That's it for my shelves and recaps of my past and upcoming week. What did you add to your shelves this week? Any bookish news you want to talk about? Let me know!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Waiting on...Baby # 2

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I'm Pregnant

So I know this is very unusual and not the intention of a typical Waiting on Wednesday post, but I couldn't think of any book that I'm "highly anticipating" more than I am highly anticipating this baby. Expected Due Date: HALLOWEEN! I've obviously known that we were expecting for quite some time, but I'm so excited to finally be able to share the news with you guys. I'm a little nervous about being able to handle two kids, but I know that just like you're never really prepared for one child, you can never really be prepared for two either. Yet I have faith and confidence that my ability to stretch and what I can handle will grow with our growing family.

I remember that moment that I saw our daughter for the first time and my heart literally expanded. It opened wide and swallowed her whole. I truly wish that I could explain that feeling in a way that someone who has never experienced it would be able to feel, but I know that these feelings can be understood from an intellectual standpoint, but not felt until one is in the moment of experiencing these things for themselves. And you guys, I cannot wait for that moment again. Seeing this new baby face to face, feeling my heart grow with an even more infinite ability to love someone beyond myself. Falling in love with my first child as I see her fall in love with and be the great big sister that I know she will be to this new baby.

And I know because of my own journey and struggles with trying to get pregnant the first time that this is not always an easy process. And since getting pregnant the first time wasn't quick or easy, my eyes were opened to the many people around me who have also struggled. One couple I know who tried for four years before getting pregnant with their baby girl. One family that was told they would never have a biological child of their own, yet she's now in college. At least three (but probably more that I'm not remembering) that have also suffered a miscarriage (or more than one). At least two women who contacted me asking for prayers in their own journeys to motherhood that I've yet to hear an announcement that they've been successful (two years later). One couple who is going through secondary infertility. One failed IVF attempt. Two sets of twins recently born using fertility treatments. And one family with two adoptive daughters. And there is an unknown number of couples who might have given up on trying. Not to mention the mothers I've witnessed over the last two years lose a child (from a 6 week old baby to an adult with a family of his own). I say all of this to say that if you've struggled...if you're currently going through this...if you've given up...I see you. I can't experience my own joy without being aware of the many whose arms are empty and aching and whose wombs have not been filled. There is still hope. There is still joy. Don't give up. And know that you are not alone.

Since I've gone through this before, I do know that my reading and blogging will take a hit over the next year to a year and a half. I've already struggled with a reading slump as the exhaustion as well as hormonal changes from early pregnancy have hit with a vengeance. I also know that I won't have a ton of time to read with a new baby. But as it won't just be one baby, but also a toddler who will be embarking on the terrible twos, I imagine that I'll have even less time to read as I did last time. I'll be scheduling some time off toward the end of the year (probably the entire month of November like I did in 2015), but I'll just have to be lenient with myself from there on out.

Now, I know none of your books can top my exciting news, I still want to know what you're waiting on this week! Let me know!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Top Ten Things That Make Me Want to Read a Book

Top 10 Tuesday is a post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week's topic is Top Ten Things That Make Me Want to Read a Book.

On the Outside

  1. Cover - Let's just be honest here. A cover says a lot about a book. And they're supposed to. You can look at some covers and immediately know that the book is going to be a mystery/thriller. Others scream Young Adult. The most obvious are usually romance and erotica. If I'm not at least drawn to the cover, chances are that I'm not even going to read the book description.
  2. Author - There are two exceptions to what I said above. Despite not being interested in the book cover, I will read the book description at least if the book is written by an author I've read and enjoyed before. I like to say that I have auto-buy authors, but I do have a few subjects that I won't even bother reading about no matter who the author is. But an author I've enjoyed is a sure-fire way to ensure that I at least check out the description.
  3. Title - Occasionally despite not being an author I've read before or a book cover that I'm attracted to, a title MIGHT pull me in enough to read the description.
  4. Book Reviews - If I'm on the fence about whether or not I'm interested in a book, I'll check out the ratings on Goodreads or Amazon first. I try NOT to read book reviews if I know that I plan to read a book because I don't want what I've read to sway my opinion of a book, but occasionally book reviews have changed my mind about whether or not to read one.
  5. Subjects that Get Me Everytime

  6. Arranged Marriages - I don't know what it is about this topic, but I'm completely intrigued by it. And mostly I only sway toward this topic if I think the couple might actually end up together in a healthy relationship. This idea is so foreign to our current culture in America of marrying for love, yet I love the idea of two people coming together with no feelings of attachment to each other beyond a commitment and coming to love each other despite their start. On the other hand, I tend to run in the other direction if I can tell from the description that one of the characters will fall in love with someone outside of who they're arranged to marry.
  7. Strong Female Characters - I wouldn't classify myself as a feminist at all. But I do love reading about strong female characters. Characters that have strong morals and convictions as well as physically strong and emotionally stable (shall we say wise). Characters that aren't victims--not because bad things don't happen to them, but because they overcome.
  8. Pen Pal Romances - My husband and I fell in love over email. We knew each other in person so it wasn't like we met online (not saying there's anything wrong with that), but we got to know each other, became friends first, and then developed feelings through the emails that we shared back and forth. So these stories have a special place in my heart.
  9. Amnesia - Another subject that I'm intrigued by. How the mind works is truly fascinating, and these stories have a unique underlying current: will he/she get their memory back or not?
  10. Bad Boys Turned Good - While I admit it is possible, the bad boy who changes his stripes for the good girl is not something that typically happens in real life. It's hard enough to change things about yourself even when you truly want to change. Changing for someone else isn't typical and when it happens often isn't long term change. Yet, I do think that certain people out there make us each want to be a better person. And those are the exact people that we need to end up with. And of course, this is a way of living vicariously. All of us women have found the bad boy attractive at some point or other. Knowing it likely won't work out, reading books like this allows us to live vicariously.
  11. Castles - If there are kings and queens and castles involved, chances are that I'm at least going to look into the book. Of course not all books with this setting are going to be winners for me, but this draws me in for sure. My inner five year princess wants to come out to play.

What about you guys? What things make you want to read a book?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bang - Review

Bang

By: Barry Lyga

Expected Publication: April 18th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

304 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--A heartbreaking novel about living with your worst mistake, from New York Times bestselling author Barry Lyga.

A chunk of old memory, adrift in a pool of blood.
Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one--not even Sebastian himself--can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father's gun.
Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend--Aneesa--to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past. It took a gun to get him into this.
Now he needs a gun to get out.
Unflinching and honest, Bang is as true and as relevant as tomorrow's headlines, the story of one boy and one moment in time that cannot be reclaimed.

I really enjoyed Barry Lyga's Jasper Dent series. His writing was so good that I knew I'd be interested in checking out more of his work. The description for Bang immediately made me wonder if "gun control" would be a political statement shoved down my throat throughout this book, but the emotional roller coaster that would surely be involved was enough to make me pick this book up. I was curious to see how Barry Lyga would handle such an emotional topic compared to the twisted nature of Jasper Dent.

Bang hooked me in a way that other books haven't been grabbing my attention. I'm in a bit of a book slump so to read a book in 24 hours is a big thing for me right now. The writing was well done as I expected. And while perhaps there were a few moments that could count as a PA concerning gun control, I didn't truly feel like there was much of an agenda pushed so much as the characters simply reacting to events in a way that felt completely natural given the circumstances. If anything, the political statements made revolved more around Aneesa and her father for their muslim faith than anything else. However, this still didn't bother me as Aneesa and her father were both likeable characters and also simply reacting in a way that felt entirely natural.

As one would expect, Bang is a deeply emotional read. It felt even more emotional for me because Little Girl is right at a year and a half. To imagine having a four year old child shoot and kill your four month old... It is simply heartbreaking for everyone involved. It's impossible as a mother not to be heartbroken by this story...both for the parents, but also for the children. The guilt that everyone involved feels. The father for it being his gun used. Sebastian for having pulled the trigger. The mother for having at one point hated your son. All of it. It is everything you would expect one to feel.

It isn't a surprise that a situation where a 4 year old shoots and kills a 4 month old could cause one to question God. How could a loving God allow such an event to happen? And if He does exist, how could He forgive a young boy for killing his sister? This wasn't a huge part of Bang truthfully there were only two comments made in passing, but as a Christian, I can't help but zero in on these things. Bad things happen in this world because God gave us free-will. Otherwise we'd all be robots running about doing His will. Love isn't much of anything when it is forced upon us. So truthfully LOVE is the reason (through free will) that bad things happen. And when you think about it, maybe it isn't such a big surprise that an infant would die when God allowed His own Son to die (for us). When bad things happen that we don't know how to explain, people often forget what God gave up for us because they're only concerned with how this bad thing has happened to them. Who do we think we are when we expect God to leave us be to live our lives however we want with no concern for Him in the day to day, yet we expect Him to save us from the things that break our hearts or cause us pain? This area of Bang was a slight frustration for me. Though believable and understandable, I'd like to--for once--see a character work through these thoughts and come out on the side of understanding that God is still good even though bad things happen.

Truthfully I didn't highlight much. There were a couple passages I highlighted but don't want to share outside of the context, and then there were the two religious references I highlighted so that I could note my frustration. But I will share this quote:

-And this is the moment to kiss her, but this is the moment never, ever to kiss her. Because to kiss her now is to seal it with pain and shame, and nothing grows well or true or right in that blend of fertilizer.

Overall Bang was an emotional read for me. I liked seeing how Sebastian was both stuck in the past and trying desperately to move forward. While I did enjoy this book overall, I'm not sure who I would recommend it to. Someone who is simply looking for an emotional and thought-provoking read I suppose. Ultimately, Bang gets 4 Stars from me. Have you read Bang? What did you think? Let me know!