Monday, July 16, 2018

Heart Land - Review

Heart Land

By: Kimberly Stuart

Expected Publication: July 17th 2018 by Howard Books

320 pages

Genre: 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--A story of reconnection, lost love, and the power of faith, Heart Land follows a struggling fashion designer back to her small Iowa hometown as she tries to follow her dreams of success and finding true love.

Grace Klaren has finally made her dream of living in the Big Apple and working in the fashion industry a reality. But when she’s unexpectedly fired and can’t afford the next month’s rent, Grace does something she never thought she’d do: she moves back home.

Back in Silver Creek, Iowa, Grace is determined to hate it. She rails against the quiet of her small town, where everything closes early, where there’s no nightlife, where everyone knows each other. She’s saving her pennies and plotting her return to New York when she almost runs over a man who’s not paying attention at a crosswalk. It turns out to be Tucker, her high school sweetheart whose heart she broke when she left ten years ago. They reconnect, and Grace remembers why she fell for him in the first place.

And her career begins to turn around when she finds a gorgeous but tattered vintage dress at a flea market. She buys it, rips it apart seam by seam, and re-creates it with new fabric, updating the look with some of her own design ideas. She snaps a picture and lists the dress online, and within a day, it sells for nearly $200. Suddenly, Grace has her ticket out of here.

But Grace can’t fight her growing feelings for Tucker. Sometimes when they’re together, Tucker paints a picture of what their future could be like, and it feels so real. And when she finally gains the funding to move her new business back to New York, Grace must decide where home really is—will she chase her long-held New York dream, or find a new dream here in the heartland?

Heart Land's description was accurate and misleading all at the same time. I won't go into details on what was misleading because that will probably be too much information/spoilers. But I will say that I hate when this happens--when I read a book and realize the description wasn't entirely accurate. Just tell me the truth without trying to doctor it up. If there are details you don't want to put into the description then leave them out entirely without misleading me.

Grace has been living in New York and working at Milano for 6 years I believe. That's a long time to be doing a job without promoting even if one has been all but promised to you. And it is kind of a long time to be stuck in the denial stages about certain events of your past.

Grace wasn't always the easiest character for me to read. I didn't relate to her in many areas. I've never been hugely fashionable. I don't fault those who are, but that's not me. I wear what I like and what I feel good in, but I'm never going to pay $700 on a handbag or a pair of shoes. I'm way too practical for that. I don't care how good they look, how nicely crafted, or what designer dreamed them up. And the issue that I usually take with fashionistas is their tendency to judge others for not being up to their standards. As an adult (no longer in high school), I am so far beyond carrying about the clothes that others are wearing or what they think about the clothes that I wear. When you're in high school there's so much conformity and it is so important (or at least you think so) to wear the "in" thing, but after that you're thrown into a melting pot of people with completely different tastes. And everyone likes different styles and we're all okay with that. Until you stumble upon someone so absorbed with fashion that they feel the need to judge and look down upon what everyone else is wearing. It annoys me. So this part of Grace's character annoyed me as well.

Another way that I don't relate is that I don't like the city. I grew up small town. But it isn't just that, so many people in such a small space drives me nuts. I even dislike traveling to major touristy places because I dread being surrounded by so many people. Grace's love for New York wasn't something that I understood or something I could commiserate with her. But her biggest reasons for wanting to be in New York were more about running away rather than running to anything.

I hated her boss even early on. I liked Tucker, but I felt like too much of the blame for their relationship issues both now and in the past were placed on Grace. He could have made some different decisions then and now. I loved Gigi with everything in me. And most of the characters of Grace's hometown. However, I felt like Grace was really gullible and the conflict could have been seen from space. I wish there would have been more action of her part to salvage things when they went back there at the end, but legally I guess I understand that probably nothing could have been done. Some of how things wrapped up was just a little too easy for story purposes and not entirely believable to me.

Favorite quote:

-"First of all, do not self-pity. It's unattractive in strong women,"...

I was completely and utterly surprised to find a spiritual message in this book as it wasn't marked as Christian nor was that in the description. But I was beyond happy to see it included. The entire book wasn't about this message so you could still enjoy the book even if that's not your thing. There's something so appealing to me about a story with a moral that isn't preached at you. However, I did find Grace's lessons a little easily learned in the telling of them rather than showing her faith journey.

Heart Land was a fun and quick read for me, but it wasn't without flaws. I found the description misleading. I didn't connect to the main character as much as I would have liked. But I can't say that I was surprised given the fashion stuff was a major part of the description. I enjoyed the Christian aspects thrown in. And I loved Tucker's generosity and personality even if I wish he'd done a bit more to step up when the conflict arose. All in, Heart Land gets 3.5 Stars. Have you read Heart Land? What did you think? Let me know!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday Post - 7/15/18

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.

Monday my nephew came to spend the week with us. Little Girl was over the moon when he walked through the door. Tuesday I handed in the registration form and fee for Little Girl to start a Mother's Day Out program 2 half days a week starting this fall. She's so excited to "go to school". Wednesday we ran my nephew up to his old high school for him to help with the sound system up there. He loves doing that sort of stuff. Thursday we took Little Girl to the local park for good behavior. Bless her! Everything was too hot to really play on so I don't think she enjoyed it as much as she could have. We might need to try to go earlier or later in the day one day instead. Friday was a swim day. Holly brought her kids over to hang and swim. It was so nice having my nephew here for a week. I genuinely enjoy hanging out with him, and he was a huge help with the kids this week as well. I'm going to miss him. No new books this week

THIS PAST WEEK:

Monday: Review of When We Were Young by Anna Benoit (3.5 Stars)
Tuesday: Favorites/Recommendations
Wednesday: Can't Wait for Lady of a Thousand Treasures (The Victorian Ladies, # 1) by Sandra Byrd

UPCOMING THIS WEEK:

Monday: Review of Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday?
Wednesday: Can't Wait for Wednesday

Don’t forget to link up for the 2018 Series Enders Reading Challenge! You have until December 15th, 2018 to sing 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!

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, July 11, 2018

Can't Wait for Lady of a Thousand Treasures

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. Find out more here.

Lady of a Thousand Treasures (The Victorian Ladies, # 1)

By: Sandra Byrd

Expected Publication: October 9th 2018 by Tyndale House Publishers

480 pages

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance

( 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--Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.

The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harry—the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.

Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.

With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust—who in her life is false or true, brass or gold—and what is meant to be treasured.

What are you guys waiting on this week? Let me know!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Favorites/Recommendations

A friend of my husband was asking for book recommendations on Facebook. I left her a link to my blog hoping that she might find some recommendations here, but that got me thinking that I didn't have the best set up for someone finding my top favorites or recommendations by genre. So I decided to do this post and turn it into a static page in my cross column header section. I've broken my favorite book recommendations down by genre. And I'll continue to update this list as I read 4.5/5 Star books. But this is going to provide me a central location for new visitors to get a quick feel for my reading preferences and recommendations.

Links take you to my review of these books where you can find cover art, title/author/publication details, links to buy from Amazon or The Book Depository when available, links to the book on Goodreads, the book description, and my review. *Note: Some of these belong to a series and only my favorite book in the series is listed, and some of the listing below are entire series and I've linked each book in the series.

Christian

Crazy Love by Francis Chan
The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian
Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Captivating by Stasi Eldredge & John Eldredge
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

Classics

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

Contemporary

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry (Pushing the Limits, Crossing the Line, Dare You To, Crash Into You, Take Me On, Chasing Impossible, Breaking the Rules)
Slammed (Slammed, # 1) by Colleen Hoover
Point of Retreat (Slammed, # 2) by Colleen Hoover
Back to You by Priscilla Glenn
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Hopeless (Hopeless, # 1) by Colleen Hoover
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
If I Stay (If I Stay, # 1) by Gayle Forman
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Reason to Breathe (Breathing, # 1) by Rebecca Donovan
Easy (Contours of the Heart, # 1) by Tammara Webber
To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, # 1) by Jenny Han
V is for Virgin (V is for Virgin, # 1) by Kelly Oram
Faking Normal by Courtney C Stevens
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
Making Faces by Amy Harmon
PS I Like You by Kasie West
A Different Blue by Amy Harmon
A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole
Bright Side (Bright Side, # 1) by Kim Holden
Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry, # 1) by Simone Elkeles
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Dystopian

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, # 1) by Suzanne Collins
Divergent (Divergent, # 1) by Veronica Roth
Delirium (Delirium, # 1) by Lauren Oliver
The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse, # 1) by Marie Rutkoski

Fantasy

Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice)
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling (Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows, Cursed Child)
Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls, # 2) by Maggie Stiefvater
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas (Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Tower of Dawn)
Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, # 2) by Cassandra Clare
Graceling (Graceling Realm. # 1) by Kristin Cashore
Fire (Graceling, # 2) Kristin Cashore
A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons)
The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, # 3) by Richelle Mead
The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, # 4) by Richelle Mead
His Fair Assassins series by Robin LaFevers (Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, Mortal Heart)
Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, # 1) by Veronica Rossi
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, # 1) by Michelle Hodkin
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, # 2) by Marissa Meyer
Cress (Lunar Chronicles, # 3) by Marissa Meyer
The Law of Moses (The Law of Moses, # 1) by Amy Harmon
A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas (A Court pf Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, A Court of Wings and Ruin)
True Reign series by Jennifer Anne Davis (The Key, Red, War)

Historical Fiction

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Hawthorne House series by Kristi Ann Hunter (A Lady of Esteem, A Noble Masquerade, An Elegant Facade, An Uncommon Courtship, An Inconvenient Beauty)
The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

Mystery/Thriller

Jasper Dent series by Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers, Game, Blood of My Blood)
Push by Claire Wallis

Post-Apocalyptic

The Dead-Tossed Waves (The Forest of Hands & Teeth, # 2) by Carrie Ryan
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Science Fiction

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, # 1) by Rick Yancey
Red Rising series by Pierce Bown (Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star, Iron Gold)

Self-Help

Push by Chalene Johnson
On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo

Monday, July 9, 2018

When We Were Young - Review

When We Were Young

By: Anna Benoit

Publication: May 30th 2017 by Anna Benoit

300 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon )

*Note: The above link to Amazon is an affiliate link. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Livvy and Jack are nothing alike. Livvy is the courteous, studious daughter of two jet-setting professors; Jack is an angry transplant with a criminal record.

But Livvy’s life isn’t as easy as it seems. Unbeknownst to most, Livvy spends most of her time avoiding Luke—her overbearing, manipulative boyfriend of six years. Even though she knows she needs a change, she’s terrified to make it, so she resigns herself to a miserable senior year of high school.

Jack is new to town. Originally from Philadelphia, he is ordered to live with his biological father, David, after committing a heinous crime. Having only met David a handful of times, Jack is furious about the move… until he meets Delia, a rebellious bombshell who instantly attracts him with her risky lifestyle.

When David decides to take in Livvy after her parents surprise her with a permanent move, Jack is forced to befriend her. Quickly, the two discover they have more in common than they originally thought.

As the year erupts with heartbreak and tragedy, Livvy and Jack must find a way to keep their delicate bond from being swept away into the turmoil.

I read When We Were Young in two days. These days that's about as fast as I can do. The writing and characters hooked me early. I was invested and interested in what was going to happen. However, things went downhill quickly. Now don't get me wrong, I was devouring this book, but I was getting so stressed out by these characters.

Truly while I was reading When We Were Young I kept thinking there's no way this many awful things could happen to the same few people unless this was real life. And while at times it felt so far fetched, I need to do no more than scroll through my Facebook news feed to see that I probably know a few people who behave similarly or have been treated similarly. And truthfully that's really sad to me.

Livvy's parents are completely absent. Her friends are fake. Her boyfriend, Luke, is controlling. She doesn't have many people in her corner. Luke's level of manipulation was so crazy that I could see how Livvy would begin to question her own sanity and guilt. I was so frustrated with her for not standing her ground earlier in the book. She could have saved herself a lot of heartache and trauma. That being said their relationship was one of the most real things about this book. Again this is truly scary to know that there are people like Luke out there and that even sane people can find themselves under the thumb of someone like him. I guess there are parents as completely absent in real life as Livvy's are but man does that get my goat. Even if they were absent, what justifies their utter dismissal of their daughter's word for the word of her boyfriend with no proof or experience to back him up. One more point I want to make here but I'll save that for later.

Jack and Delia have an equally destructive and unhealthy relationship. She seems to enjoy being treated badly and was only really interested in Jack to begin with because of how "bad" he told her he was. His part in the relationship while disappointing was at least understandable given his mother's situation and how that back and forth behavior is all he's even known. Plus well he's a guy. And while that doesn't excuse his behavior, it also wasn't far from what I witness as a teenager watching guys behavior in high school. Jack let me down time and time again not seeing more of what was going on with Livvy and stepping in to help her sooner.

I'd like to say that I was disappointed that these two didn't do more self work before jumping into a relationship with each other, but again... real life. When things finally started going well I still felt unable to be excited for the characters because of the amount of drama surrounding them.

Sexual situations and language were both fairly graphic. Trigger warnings galore.

I've discussed how frequently the events of this book reminded me of real life, and then I read at the end of the book that Anne Benoit is a therapist. This makes the sheer amount of drama and horrible things happening make sense. I suppose none of the things in this book that felt too much or far fetched would feel that way coming from someone who has heard humanity's worst.

I will say, though, that the ending really did feel unrealistic to me. ***SPOILER: (highlight to see)I know that people go to jail who are innocent but it seemed to me that all that needed to be done to show who the real violent person was would have been for Livvy to show her text messages from Luke. ***END SPOILER

I can't remember the last time I felt so conflicted over a book rating. On the one hand, I read this book as quickly as I possibly could given the time I have to read. I was invested early on and dying to know how things would work out. And this book read so dramatic that it could only be inspired by real life. These things have me wanting to give 4 Stars. Yet my friend Lacy choosing her 4 Star rating based off whether she'd re-read the book or not. While that's never officially been how I rate books, whether or not I'd want to re-read a book is a great indication of how much I enjoyed it. (I don't see myself ever re-reading When We Were Young . I also don't know that I'd recommend this book to others which is another big indicator. It would take the right reader and the right circumstances.) Ultimately, I think 3.5 Stars is a fair rating. Have you read When We Were Young ? What did you think? Let me know!

*Side note: I hate when I finish a book and have no idea why it is titled.