Saturday, January 31, 2015

Discussions Only We Know: Family Friendly

Discussions Only We Know

Family Friendly

Say what????

So my question for today: Do you guys try to keep your blog "family friendly"? If so, what does that mean to you? What constitutes "family friendly?"

I am not a mother yet, but I do have two nieces. Both of my nieces read. One is fourteen, and the other is eleven. I don't think either read my blog, but they both know about it. Just the idea that either might be reading it (or might one day read it) keeps me on my toes, and I am constantly asking myself if I'd want my teenage or pre-teen daughter exposed to what I post on my blog. Tough question.

I have definitely chosen to keep my blog "family friendly." What this means to me is that there won't be book covers with mostly naked people on them--especially if they're posed in any compromising positions--and there won't be any book titles with cursing. I have enjoyed branching out into the New Adult genre, but often these books push the boundaries of what I'm comfortable with posting on the blog or even reading myself.

I debated for a while when I first started my blog about doing some sort of content rating on my reviews to show what someone might expect within the book like cursing, sexual situations, drug/alcohol use, etc. But I just found myself having a really hard time classifying all of that, so I ended up deciding against it. I know some bloggers have found a way of doing this that works for them, and I say kudos. Instead, I do try to mention in my reviews if the cursing was a bit much for me, or if any scenes were too graphic, and I have decided to include the genre designation on my reviews for quite some time. I put off including the genre designation for a while because there can be controversy over what is classified as which genre, but I specifically want Young Adult, New Adult, or Adult listed so that anyone reading my blog can know what to expect.

Of course, not all books classified in each category will have the same level of content, but that's life, right? Most things don't fit neatly into boxes. There are shades of grey everywhere (and I'm not talking 50 Shades of Grey).

This is just happens to be what I feel comfortable with. I realize that everyone has different comfort levels, and that's fine. But I want my daughter (assuming I ever have one of those) to read my blog one day and for me not to be embarrassed by the content found within it. Granted there are books that don't have steamy covers or titles with cursing that still have content within that is not going to be appropriate for a teenage girl.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any boundaries or limits you set on yourself for your blog content? Or do you just post whatever you want and whatever you read? Do you care about keeping things "family friendly"? I'm really curious. What do you guys think? Let me know!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Top Secret Twenty-One - Review

Top Secret Twenty One (Stephanie Plum, # 21)

By: Janet Evanovich

Published: June 17th 2014 by Bantam

320 pages

Genre: Adult, Humor

Source: Borrowed from my sister (who borrowed from the 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--Catch a professional assassin: top priority. Find a failure-to-appear and collect big bucks: top score. How she’ll pull it all off: top secret.

Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer’s whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn’t want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti’s bookkeeper and knows all his boss’s dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti’s list of people to put six feet under.

To top things off, Ranger—resident security expert and Stephanie’s greatest temptation—has been the target of an assassination plot. He’s dodged the bullet this time, but if Ranger wants to survive the next attempt on his life, he’ll have to enlist Stephanie’s help and reveal a bit more of his mysterious past.

Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s wild bucket list. A boob job and getting revenge on Joe Morelli’s Grandma Bella can barely hold a candle to what’s number one on the list—but that’s top secret.

I don’t actually have much to say about this book. Pretty much everything I said in my review of Takedown Twenty is applicable to Top Secret Twenty-One also. Not much happens in the overall plot of the series or in Stephanie’s personal life. I did laugh out loud once, but didn’t laugh in general near as much as I’ve come to expect from these books. I felt like this book was filler. It was just kind of blah.

I really feel like Janet Evanovich needs to think about wrapping this series up. It feels like it has been dragged out a bit and probably past time to say goodbye. Nothing new happens (or has happened in the last 4 or 5 books). I seriously think Janet Evanovich has an outline of event such as:

  • Stephanie is assigned an FTA to hunt down. Check.
  • Stephanie and Lula ride around for a bit. Check.
  • Stephanie’s car gets stolen. Check.
  • Ranger gives Stephanie a new vehicle. Check.
  • Lula gets hungry. Check.
  • Eat at Cluck In A Bucket. Check.
  • Ranger/Morelli is working on a larger case. Check.
  • Stephanie gets involved. Check.
  • Someone blows up Stephanie’s apartment. Check.
  • Someone calls Lula fat. Check.
  • Lula attempts to shoot said person. Check.
  • Grandma Mazur goes to a funeral and/or viewing. Check.
  • Stephanie’s mother worries. Check.
  • Ranger says “babe.” Check. Check. Check. And check.
  • Stephanie gets all hot and bothered. Check.
  • Stephanie actually goes home to Morelli. Check.
  • Stephanie catches the skip. Check.
  • Stephanie catches the bad guy from the bigger situation. Check.
  • Stephanie gets hurt in the process. Check.
  • Lula makes a crack about how bad Stephanie looks. Check.
  • And that’s pretty much that. I’m sure that I’m missing a few pieces, but that’s the general gist of almost every book (at least the last 6 or 7). And I just kind of feel like Janet Evanovich changes up the details but makes sure they fit into this general outline.

    Overall I was disappointed, but even disappointed this is an average book. Top Secret Twenty-One gets 3 Stars. Have you read Top Secret Twenty-One? What did you think? Let me know!

    Thursday, January 29, 2015

    An Endless Summer - Review

    An Endless Summer (Summer, # 2)

    By: CJ Duggan

    Published: July 11th 2013

    311 pages

    Genre: Young Adult, 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--Sean looked out over the lake, squinting against the sunlight. He turned to me, his expression sobering as his eyes flicked over my face in a silent study.

    “Come on Amy, I saved you once, I’ll save you again.”
    I met his stare unflinchingly. “I don’t need saving.”
    A wicked grin formed slowly. “Don’t you?”

    After a rebellious summer night that almost claimed her life, Amy Henderson – the Onslow publican’s only daughter – is sent away to suffer a fate far worse than any other punishment:

    Boarding School.

    Three years on, a now nineteen-year-old Amy returns to Onslow for the summer. What once was a cauldron of activity with live bands, hot meals and cold beers, the Onslow Hotel now lies dark, deserted and depressing. All fond childhood memories of loitering on the hotel stairs and eavesdropping on customers’ colourful conversations are in the distant past.

    How had her dad let it come to this?

    With the new threat of putting the Onslow up for sale, Amy reluctantly turns to a local tradesman for help: Sean Murphy, the very same Onslow boy who saved her life all those years ago. With his help and that of some old friends, the task is clear: spend the summer building the hotel back up to its former glory or lose it for good.

    In an endless summer, Amy soon realises that sometimes in order to save your future, you have to face your past, even if it’s in the form of a smug, gorgeous Onslow boy.

    I didn’t really read the description for An Endless Summer except to see that this was Amy and Sean’s story. Sean was one of my favorite characters from The Boys of Summer so I was excited to read his story. In The Boys of Summer, Tess was concerned about the age difference between her and Toby, but then Amy was at least two years younger than Tess. So that means Amy is about 6 or 7 years younger than Sean. Again, the age difference doesn’t bother me. I’ve said plenty of times, my husband is 12 years older than me. But I guess I was just surprised that Amy would end up being the girl for Sean.

    After having finished The Boys of Summer I kept getting the nagging feeling like I really needed to continue with this series sooner rather than later. And being the mood reader that I am, I followed my mood. And I’m glad that I did. An Endless Summer was a very enjoyable read. As the description says, the Onslow Hotel, which was the main setting for The Boys of Summer, has fallen into disrepair. Amy’s father has left hotel maintenance in the hands of an incapable and untrustworthy manager. Her father has focused his attention of late upon saving his marriage to Amy’s mother, and I’m not sure anyone can blame him for that. But the Onslow is Amy’s home. She’s never really felt at home in the city or at the boarding school she was sent to after a drunken, near death experience. And so when Amy needs a break from life in the city, she returns to the Onslow. What she finds breaks her heart, and she puts her all into repairing and restoring the Onslow back to its former glory.

    Of course, Amy isn’t alone in the repairing and restoration process. Sean Murphy who also happened to be the one to save her from her drunken drowning incedent that sent her off to boarding school happens to be just returning to town himself. He’s successfully built a construction and contracting business that has made him pretty wealthy. And Sean brings his new skills and success to Amy’s rescue again. Amy doesn’t want to be indebted to Sean again. And this particular aspect annoyed me because sometimes you just need to accept help, but I also found myself proud of Amy because some things you just need to do yourself. She’s not completely a spoiled princess. She’s willing to get her hands dirty and work hard in order to see this project through to the end, but at the same time, she’s always been provided for and never really had to worry about money or necessities. Those things were always taken care of by her parents.

    Similarly to The Boys of Summer, I loved the slow building relationship that Sean and Amy have. Sean definitely clues in a lot sooner than Amy does, but you can see her resistence to the idea is more about protecting her heart than anything else. Amy is feisty and essentially just what funny-boy Sean needs and wants. She doesn’t take his bull, but he doesn’t allow her any slack either. While these two do have a physical relationship, this book is not very descriptive when it comes to those scenes which I appreciate. I would definitely say because the of the physical relationship as well as their ages, I would classify this as a new adult book, but because the lack of description during these physical scenes, I would classify this as one of the tamest new adult series I’ve ever read.

    Fans of Contemporary Romance everywhere will enjoy this series. I wasn’t particularly surprised by any of the events, and I think Sean’s backstory could have been explored a bit more, but other than that, this series has just been a joy to read. There haven’t been any moments when I’ve been too annoyed or frustrated with the characters. And there haven’t been any conflicts that felt like they were thrown in for the sake of having SOME kind of conflict.

    An Endless Summer easily gets 4 Stars from me. I can’t wait to continue forward with this series. I don’t know that Chris has been a favorite character over the last two books, but I’m sure that will change when I delve into his book with That One Summer. I can see myself going ahead and purchasing that one soon. Have you read An Endless Summer? What did you think? Let me know!

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    Waiting on Paradise City

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

    Paradise City (Paradise, # 1)

    By: CJ Duggan

    Expected Publication: April 28th 2015

    Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

    ( 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--There's bound to be trouble in Paradise . . .

    When her parents decide a change will be good for her, seventeen-year-old Lexie Atkinson never expected they'd send her all the way to Paradise City. Coming from a predictable life of home schooling on a rural Australian property, she's sure that Paradise will be amazing. But when she's thrust into a public school without a friendly face in sight, and forced to share a room with her insipid, hateful cousin Amanda, Lexie's not so sure.

    Hanging out with the self-proclaimed beach bums of the city, sneaking out, late night parties and parking with boys are all things Lexie's never experienced, but all that's about to change. It's new, terrifying . . . and exciting. But when she meets Luke Ballantine, exciting doesn't even come close to describing her new life. Trouble with a capital T, Luke is impulsive, charming and answers to no one. The resident bad-boy leader of the group, he's sexier than any boy Lexie has ever known.

    Amidst the stolen moments of knowing looks and heated touches, Lexie can't help but wonder if Luke is going to be good for her . . . or very, very bad?

    I've really enjoyed CJ Duggan's Summer series, and I can't wait to read more. What are you waiting on this week? Let me know!

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    Top Ten Books If I Had A Book Club

    Top 10 Tuesday is a post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week's topic is Top Ten Books If I Had a Book Club.

    If I had a book club, it would be all about stories that I need to talk about--stories that need to be picked apart and dissected. While this can be necessary for some contemporary books, mostly I see my book club being Fantasy driven.

    1. Harry Potter by JK Rowling - Because come on, can you have a book club without reading Harry Potter?
    2. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin - Because there's so much that I'm sure that I'm missing and I feel like these are books that MUST be disected.
    3. Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown - While this book had a slow start for me, since finishing it, I can't stop thinking about it. This book needs to be talked about. I can't wait to read more of the series.
    4. His Fair Assassins by Robin LaFevers - Again, these books must be talked about. The symbolism alone demands it.
    5. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - I mean this is a retelling of multiple major fairytales all combined into one story. Yes, this would definitely be on my book club list.
    6. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - This would make my list for the unique writing style alone. I still haven't finished this series, but I think it would make excellent book club discussions.
    7. Jasper Dent by Barry Lyga - Another book where so much happens that you just need to talk the twists and turns out with someone. Plus this entire series is psychological.
    8. The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E Pearson - Book one had such an interesting method of story telling. This would make for interesting discussion. I'd love to see who all guessed correctly and who all was wrong.
    9. Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - The mix of the lovely writing style and story elements would make for good discussion I think. Another where I still have to finish the last book.
    10. anything Jane Austen - Because again, you can't have a book club without reading Jane Austen.

    What books would your book club read? Let me know!

    Monday, January 26, 2015

    Red Rising - Review

    Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, # 1)

    By: Pierce Brown

    Published: January 28th 2014 by Del Rey (Random House)

    382 pages

    Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

    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--The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

    Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

    Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.

    Oh boy. I have no clue where to start talking about this book. Prior to picking up Red Rising I noticed that it was getting some particularly high ratings on Goodreads. As of the of typing this review the average rating for Red Rising on Goodreads is 4.17 which is pretty awesome. Specifically, I saw that Kimba gave it 5 Stars, and since it was a freebie on Amazon (at the time), I knew I had to check it out.

    The description above is both 100% legit and yet gives you absolutely no indication of what this book is actually about. Yes, Darrow is a Red and a miner. Yes the Golds have lied to the lowReds about Mars being currently uninhabitable. But man…that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That’s just the background information. I will say that Red Rising had an extremely slow start to me. I mark my book progress in increments of 10% (for ebooks), and I really felt like it took a long time to make it from 0 to 10% and from 10 to 20 and even from 20 to 30%. I found myself interested in what was happening, but at this point in the story, Red Rising was easy for me to put down. As a matter of fact, I think I read roughly 3 – 5 books in between the time I started Red Rising and the time that I finished it. Even when I was fully invested, Red Rising still had parts that would fall into lulls periodically.

    As the description says, Darrow starts out as a miner, events take place that serve as a catalyst for Darrow. He wasn’t exactly content where he was, but he needed a little bit of an extra push to join the rebellion that the description mentions. Darrow doesn’t just disguise himself as a Gold, the rebellion transforms his entire body into BEING a Gold. His bones are broken and rebuilt. His muscles. His hair color. He receives eye transplants. And the physical transformations abound. But Darrow has to spend time being prepared mentally as well. His goal is to secure a position in a highGold’s household or an apprenticeship. And he’s going to do so by going to this Institution that is basically a school for Golds to determine which ones come out on top—separating the best from the almost best.

    That all sounds well and good right? It’s like Hogwarts! YAY!....PSYCH! Not at all. Unless someone mixed Hogwarts and The Hunger Games and called it school. There’s no magic in this world, but there is some technology that we don’t have either, so Red Rising does require a good bit of imagination. But here’s where the book really took off. All the students have to come out on the other side of the Passage. And after that, they’re basically thrown into a real-life game of Risk. There are twelve houses at the school, and the object is to conquer and win. The goal isn’t to kill all the other students, but death and injury are certainly part of the game. Strategy is key, and power is a must. Until there is one winner. That winner is the leader, or Primus, of the winning house, and thus offered the best positions upon finishing the Institute. Darrow must win. He must.

    The most exciting things I want to talk about in regards to Red Rising are all spoilers. Don’t you hate when that happens? I certainly do. I want to talk about what I saw coming and what completely surprised me. I want to discuss all of those things, but I just can’t ruin this book for you. The writing didn’t quite blow me away with its beauty or anything like that. Yet, I found myself highlighting frequently and often rather large sections at a time. And now when I’ve gone back to find my favorite quotes, I see nothing but beauty in the sentences.

    My favorite non-spoiler quotes:
    The opening line:

    -I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.

    And more:

    -I was forged in the bowels of this hard world. Sharpened by hate. Strengthened by love.

    -“…All ears yearn for a voice to lead them through darkness.”

    -“An empire cannot be destroyed from without till it is destroyed from within.”

    -…I still feel his eyes watching me as though I am something different, something strange. It’s like they suddenly don’t understand what it is they have created. I touch the haemanthus blossom in my pocket and feel the wedding band around my neck. They didn’t create me. She did.

    -I’m a sheep wearing wolves’ clothing in a pack of wolves.

    -“The measure of a man is what he does when he has power”…

    -“Nothing binds like shared pain.”

    -I am the spark that will set the worlds afire. I am the hammer that cracks the chains.

    -I am empty. What do I do now?

    -Words are a weapon stronger than he knows. And songs are even greater. The words wake the mind. The melody wakes the heart.

    I can’t quite give Red Rising 5 Stars because it took a while for me to get hooked and even when I did there were moments that lulled. But since finishing Red Rising, I can’t seem to quit thinking about this book. And the more I think about it, the deeper it becomes and the more I realize how great it really was. I’m torn between needing to rest from the massiveness that was this book and wanting to jump right into book 2, Golden Son which I already have in my possession. Red Rising easily gets 4.5 Stars. Have you read Red Rising? What did you think?

    Side note: They really need to turn this book into a TV series/movie! I think this would translate to a visual medium just perfectly. And they wouldn’t even have to change it to interest men and women both.

    Sunday, January 25, 2015

    2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge - January Wrap Up

    It's time for our first Monthly Wrap Up for the 2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge hosted by Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know and Holly @ Words Fueled by Love!

    Where did this month go? Since posting the 2014 Series Enders Reading Challenge - December Wrap Up, I finished two series enders, but the problem is...I finished them both in 2014 so I'm not counting them for this wrap up. But since I haven't read any in 2015 yet, I did want to at least feature them: Out of Breath (Breathing, # 3) by Rebecca Donovan & Maybe Not (Maybe, # 1.5) by Colleen Hoover. Holly finished three series enders this month: Out of Breath (Breathing, # 3) by Rebecca Donovan, Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, # 3) by Robin LaFevers, & Maybe Not (Maybe, # 1.5) by Colleen Hoover.

    Which series enders did you finish? Link the up below. Don't forget to include the title, your name, & your blog name (Ex: Requiem - Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know) Also, the January giveaway runs from January 25th - February 25th. On February 25th we will use and the linky entries to pull a winner.

    Sunday Post - 133 & Stacking the Shelves - 94

    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 was both a fast and a slow week. Mostly I can't tell you guys how much I was looking forward to a down weekend with zero plans after the hectic, busy weekend we had last week. And this weekend hit the mark. I basically read ALL day yesterday which was so nice.


    Monday: Review of Never Never (Never Never, # 1) by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher (4 Stars)
    Tuesday: Top Ten Books I've Had the Longest & Have Never Read
    Wednesday: Waiting on Riot (Mayhem, # 2) by Jamie Shaw
    Thursday: Review of Out of Breath (Breathing, # 3) by Rebecca Donovan (4 Stars)
    Friday: Review of Playing It Safe by Barbie Bohrman (3 Stars)
    Saturday: Discussions Only We Know: Scheduling Posts


    Monday: Review of Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, # 1) by Pierce Brown
    Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday
    Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday
    Thursday: Review of An Endless Summer (Summer, # 2) by CJ Duggan
    Friday: Review of Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum, # 21) by Janet Evanovich
    Saturday: Discussions Only We Know: Family Friendly

    Don’t forget to sign up for the 2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge! You have until December 15, 2015 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.

    All the Rage

    By: Courtney Summers

    Expected Publication: April 14th 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin

    336 pages

    Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller

    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--In her hardcover debut, from the author of Cracked Up To Be and This is Not a Test, comes a powerful new young adult novel. 

    The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous.But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now—but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

    With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

    Kate & Alf

    By: Carrie Stone

    Expected Publication: February 5th 2015 by HarperImpulse

    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--Kate loves Alf. And Alf loves Kate… Doesn’t he?

    Kate can’t wait for her long-term boyfriend Alf to propose. So he might be a bit of a control freak who’s obsessed with his career … and he also seems to have conveniently forgotten their two-year plan to get married, buy a bigger house and have children. But Kate’s sure that ring will be on her finger soon.

    When her thirty-second birthday ends in humiliating, proposal-less disaster, even Kate is left wondering if Alf really is The One. Then Alf’s friend, Marcus, needs a place to stay. With his dark eyes, easygoing manner and kind concern for Kate, Marcus is everything Alf is not - and it's not long before Kate begins to wonder if there’s more to life than diamonds.

    Becoming Rain (Burying Water, # 2)

    By: KA Tucker

    Expected Publication: March 3rd 2015 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--Luke Boone doesn't know exactly what his uncle Rust is involved in but he wants in on it-the cars, the money, the women. And it looks like he's finally getting his wish. When Rust hands him the managerial keys to the garage, they come with a second set-one that opens up the door to tons of cash and opportunity. Though it's not exactly legal, Luke's never been one to worry about that sort of thing. Especially when it puts him behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 and onto the radar of gorgeous socialite named Rain.

    Clara Bertelli is at the top of her game-at only twenty-six years old, she's one of the most successful undercover officers in the Washington D.C. major crime unit, and she's just been handed a case that could catapult her career and expose one of the west coast's most notorious car theft rings. But, in order to do it, she'll need to go deep undercover as Rain Martines. Her target? The twenty-four-year old nephew of a key player who appears ready to follow in his uncle's footsteps.

    As Clara drifts deeper into the luxurious lifestyle of Rain, and further into the arms of her very attractive and charming target, the lines between right and wrong start to blur, making her wonder if she'll be able to leave it all behind. Or if she'll even want to.

    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!

    Saturday, January 24, 2015

    Discussions Only We Know: Scheduling Posts

    Discussions Only We Know

    Scheduling Posts

    Today we're talking scheduling. Do you schedule your posts ahead of time? If so, how far in advance? And what tools do you use?

    When I first started blogging, I had no idea how anyone could schedule posts ahead of time, much less be ahead as far as a month. I posted my reviews pretty much the day after finishing the book, so what was there to schedule? But one day I made the "mistake" of reading a book for review "too soon," and I couldn't post my review about it for another couple of weeks in order to be within the 30 days of the publication date that most publishers prefer. So I scheduled it. And somehow I got even further ahead--I really couldn't even tell you how.

    Before I knew it, I was a week ahead, and then a month. At that point I made it my goal to try to read 2 books a week. If I can keep up a pace of two books a week then I can post two reviews a week. And therefore, I can keep a schedule for myself. I've consistently been a month ahead on reviews since that point, and my life as a blogger has been so much less stressful.

    Before I discuss how I schedule my posts, I want to pose the question to you who want to schedule ahead but don't know how to get started. Do you post consistently now? Or do you posts reviews just whenever you can? Why not save up a couple of reviews instead of posting them immediately? If you don't post consistently anyway then what's the harm in holding them for a while, right? Go ahead and type them up, but save them for next month.

    Here's how I schedule my posts and the tools I use:

    I purchased the printable blogging kit from Clean Mama. This includes a page called Blogging Schedule. Once you print it out, you can circle the month you're using it for, and then begin filling in the month. I start with the meme's I participate in Sunday Post & Stacking the Shelves on Sundays, Top Ten Tuesday, and Waiting on Wednesday. I fill in all Sundays, Tuesday, and Wednesdays with these posts. So that leaves me with Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I personally chose not to post on Saturdays until recently and usually use that day as my prepping day. So I've chosen to fill in Monday and Thursday with my two reviews of the week. I save Friday for the occasional extra review and/or discussion post. When Fridays are booked, the Discussions Only We Know features are rolled over into Saturday.

    Until last year, I always published my reviews in the order that I read the book, but that put me publishing review books outside of the publisher's preferred 30 day window. Consequently, I've added the additional tool of Google Calendar because of the ease of rearranging my scheduled posts. Even though I'd prefer to publish my reviews in the order that I read them, it's more important for me to maintain a good working relationship with publishers. Therefore, I've begun rearranging my posts according to the release date of the review books that I read.

    For example, I read The Maze Runner back in March of 2014. At that time I was already scheduled to May. So the first time I scheduled to post my review of The Maze Runner was May 6th. But as I read more review books that needed to be posted within their 30 day windows, my review of The Maze Runner kept getting pushed back. I eventually published my review of The Maze Runner on July 1st. And here's the kicker, the post date is always subject to change on books that I read for fun. My "review" books now take priority, but I still schedule plenty of reviews for books that have been published for a while too.

    Of course my calendar is color coded. Blog posts are in teal/light blue. Review books are in light gray. Posts that are tentative and not set in stone are in dark blue. Book release dates are in light pink/purple. And special event type posts, such as the Series Enders Reading Challenge Monthly Wrap Up posts are in orange. (Yellow and green are personal.) As I do use this calendar for pretty much everything personal and blog related, I blacked some things out.

    I still go ahead and type up my reviews usually within a day of finishing the book. I format a chunk of them all at one time and save them as a draft until I'm 100% nailed in to their scheduled dates--usually my post dates are still fluid until a week ahead. Once I'm 100% on the schedule date, I'll proof the review again and then *set it up to post automatically through blogger.

    So that's reviews. Thankfully, the folks at The Broke and the Bookish posts the scheduled Top Ten Tuesday topics several months in advance. This gives me PLENTY of time to prepare my list of books for each topic. There's another printable I bought from Clean Mama called All Over Everywhere List. I take one section of this page for each topic. There is 8 lines, but I can easily squeeze in 10 items (or more as I tend to go over 10). If books automatically pop into my head as I'm assigning each topic a section, then I'll go ahead and fill those in. If not, then I might wait until closer to the scheduled date for that topic to think about it. But this helps me stay on top of this meme.

    In the same way, I have a spreadsheet that I keep for Waiting on Wednesday posts. For any series I'm reading, the books that aren't released yet automatically made my spreadsheet for Waiting on Wednesday. This gives me a big chunk of books for the future. However, sometimes that book isn't set to release for another year or two. In cases like this, I've made the personal decision that I will only feature books for Waiting on Wednesday that both have a cover released and at least some sort of description. If I have several Waiting on Wednesday posts already prepped and formatted, then I publish them in order of the release date--books with the closest publication date get posted first.

    Again, color coordinated. Green means ready. Blue means I'm dying to do my post on these books but I'm on hold for some reason. Orange means I need to read a previous book in the series. And red means the post is ready, but I'm too far from the publication date to want to feature that book yet. As you can see, I do need to update this spreadsheet. I see at least two books that are already published on this list. Whoops!

    And that's pretty much it. That's my scheduling process. I hope I didn't thoroughly confuse anyone. So yeah, if you do it differently, what's your process? Which tools do you use to schedule your posts ahead of time? If you don't schedule ahead of time, do you see this as something you might be able to try in the future? Let me know!

    *Please tell me that everyone knows how to set their posts up to publish automatically for them in blogger? Sorry Wordpress peeps. I can't help you out there.

    Friday, January 23, 2015

    Playing It Safe - Review

    Playing It Safe

    By: Barbie Bohrman

    Published: October 1st 2014 by Montlake Romance

    306 pages

    Genre: Adult, Contemporary

    Source: Amazon Kindle First

    ( 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--Julia Boyd has dated more than her share of jerks, and she’s done even pretending to like them. Putting her dating life on hold and focusing on her event planning career is a much safer bet for the blue-eyed blonde…until she meets her newest client.

    Organizing the opening for an art gallery should be a breeze for Julia, but gallery owner Alex Holt is becoming very distracting. Tall and muscular with enough charisma and sexy dimples to make Julia swoon, Alex could be the perfect man. The two of them click immediately, creating enough witty banter to ignite sparks.

    But just before flames of passion can erupt with Alex, Julia begins planning an engagement party…and learns the groom is Aiden, the man who broke her heart years ago. When Aiden admits that he still has feelings for Julia, everything changes. Should she seek shelter in the familiarity of the past, or should she risk everything on a brand-new love?

    So I listened to Promise Me on audiobook earlier this year and I enjoyed it, but decided not to review it due to the graphic content level. I knew that another book was going to be written about Julia, Sabrina’s best friend, and so I had my radar out for this book without even knowing that this book was the book I was looking for. Playing It Safe was offered to me as an Amazon Kindle First deal back in September or October, and I knew that Barbie Bohrman wrote Promise Me so I picked it up without even really realizing that it was Julia’s story. So that’s how I ended up with Playing It Safe.

    All of that being said, can I just take a minute to address the cover of this book? I mean the girl and the guy are obviously at the beach right? But other than being set in Miami, there was nothing “beach” about this book. The characters don’t go to the beach at all. They don’t even go swimming. So a girl wrapped up on a beach towel and all that jazz has nothing to do with this book.

    Playing It Safe falls into the category of books I don’t want to take too seriously. I read this book because I needed something light and quick to read while I was on vacation. And it definitely fit that bill, but Playing It Safe also had frustrations for me. First off, Julia narrates as if she’s speaking to the reader, and I’m not sure why that was as annoying as it was for me, but it just was. The amount of fight Julia puts up against a relationship with Alex was annoying. The conflict with Marisa was overplayed and annoying. Plus it was more of a situation where I was upset that Julia was letting Marissa affect her like she did rather than anything else. So yeah, the main conflict and resolution felt like it could have been avoided if the characters weren’t so stupid and prideful. On top of that, Alex essentially says “I would have come after you in a day anyway” even though Sarah had to force him to be at the final showdown moment as it is. So that felt contradictory to me.

    Overall, Playing It Safe felt safe. It felt predictable, and cliché, and not a risk at all. It wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t really even bad. But it wasn’t really all that good either. In the end, I feel good about giving Playing It Safe 3 Stars. Have you read Playing It Safe? What did you think? Let me know!

    Thursday, January 22, 2015

    Out of Breath - Review

    Out of Breath (Breathing, # 3)

    By: Rebecca Donovan

    Published: July 2nd 2013 by Skyscape

    422 pages

    Genre: Young Adult/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--Emma leaves Weslyn and everyone in it behind to attend Stanford University, just as she always intended. A shell of her former self, she is not the same girl. She is broken, and the only way that she’ll be whole again is through forgiveness. Emma must find a way to forgive herself and recognize her own worth before she can receive the love she deserves. This final installment will have readers holding their breath until the very last page.

    Reason to Breathe was the first book I rated 5 Stars in 2014. I fell in love with the characters, and I was rooting for Emma who was up against all kinds of odds. Barely Breathing followed and was one of the most emotionally exhausting and frustrating books I’ve ever read. Rebecca Donovan even said on Facebook that Emma makes all the wrong decisions in that book, and that is 100% an accurate statement. I was so drained after reading that book. I knew I wanted to know how it would all end, but boy did I need some time and space before I could read Out of Breath. I went from loving Rebecca Donovan with Reason to Breathe to just not being entirely sure what she was going to put these characters through next. My sister read Out of Breath before I did. She said it ended well but the beginning was a little rough. That wasn’t exactly what I needed to hear for me to be racing out to pick it up. When my friend Lacy breezed through all three books recently I knew it was finally time for me to finish this series. Lacy told me that book 3 was much better than book 2. And thank goodness for that.

    Ultimately, I agree with both Melissa and Lacy. There was a bit in the beginning of Out of Breath where I wanted to smack Emma in the head to knock some sense into her. But I was dreading this book so much more than was necessary. Like Lacy said, it was so much better and satisfying than Barely Breathing. Don’t get me wrong, Rebecca Donovan still puts these characters through a lot. Of course there are still things for them to overcome, and because of things that happened in Barely Breathing they have a lot to forgive in order to move forward.

    Emma was still a struggle for me though not nearly at the Barely Breathing level. She went from trying so hard in Reason to Breathe to making all the wrong choices in Barely Breathing to not being sure of anything in Out of Breath. And seriously, who could blame her after all she’s been through? Emma struggles with the “for your own good” sacrifices self-sabotage that I get so annoyed with, but thankfully she gets over this eventually. Although how Emma could possibly even touch alcohol considering her mother is an alcoholic and everything Emma went through because of that is beyond me. This being used as a coping mechanism for Emma in Out of Breath was hard for me to read.

    I loved how much talking and discussion had to be done in order for these characters to move forward. They can’t sweep things under the rug and pretend like the past didn’t happen. They have to talk about what went wrong and find a way to forgive each other (and themselves) in order to move forward. But I do wish there was more information or clarification about whether Emma ever ended up going to counseling/therapy. It was suggested, but she never really committed to it as far as we know.

    I loved Evan just as much in this book as ever. Loved Sara and Jared. And I even really enjoyed Emma’s roommates (minus Peyton). I liked that Peyton wasn’t as present in the last bit of the book, but I do wish there was some kind of explanation for why she wasn’t present. I can assume and guess, but that’s all I’ve got. Cole I wasn’t sold on, but that’s because he just wasn’t Evan. TJ, Nate, Brent…loved and wouldn’t mind getting more of each of their stories.

    Favorite quotes:

    -“I listen to silence. And you”—his mouth pulled into a smirk—“you have a lot to say. Although I haven’t quite figured out what it is yet.”

    -“What happened to her, Sara?” Sara looked across at me with sorrow-filled eyes. “She left you.”

    -I slid my hand down to rest on his chest and I could feel his heart beating faster. That’s when I realized that mine wasn’t.

    -“Living in the mistakes of your past isn’t going to do anything but destroy your future.”

    -And I chose to live. I chose to love. I chose to breathe.

    All in all, I think Out of Breath was much better than I was expecting. It was probably one of those times where going into it with low expectations really served to help me enjoy it more. I was prepared to be annoyed and frustrated beyond reason, and I was very thankful to find this wasn’t the case—even though there were moments of frustration. Out of Breath gets 4 stars for me. Have you read Out of Breath? What did you think? Let me know!

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Waiting on Riot

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

    Riot (Mayhem, # 2)

    By: Jamie Shaw

    Expected Publication: February 10th 2015 by Avon Impulse

    Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

    ( 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--When Dee Dawson meets sexy mohawked guitarist Joel Gibbon, she knows it won’t be long before she has him wrapped around her finger. No guy has ever been able to resist her… but Dee’s met her match in a player like Joel.

    Dee’s not the relationship type—not after seeing the pain “love” has caused her friends and family—yet she’s desperate to make Joel want her more than anyone else. He quickly becomes an obsession, and when a reckless attempt to make him jealous ends in disaster, Dee turns into the damsel in distress she never wanted to be. With her carefree world crashing down around her, the last thing she needs is Joel’s pity.

    But Joel is suddenly determined to prove he cares, and no matter how hard Dee tries to push him away, he refuses to let her shut him out. Now the girl who swore she’d never say those three little words must choose between guarding her heart and losing Joel forever… or falling head-over-heels for the tattooed rock star of her dreams.

    I was pleasantly surprised with Mayhem and can't wait to continue the series. What are you waiting on this week? Let me know!

    Tuesday, January 20, 2015

    Top Ten Books I've Had the Longest & Have Never Read

    Top 10 Tuesday is a post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week's topic is Top Ten Books I've Had the Longest & Have Never Read.

    1. Prince of Wolves (The Grey Wolves, # 1) by Quinn Lofis – My friend Paula did a guest review on my blog for it. And even though she enjoyed it, this has just not been a priority for me.
    2. The Fallen Star (Fallen Star, # 1) by Jessica Sorensen – I’ve pretty much enjoyed all of the Jessica Sorensen books that I’ve read, and with this being a paranormal book, I’m excited to get around to it….eventually. But again, this isn’t a priority for me right now.
    3. A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, # 5) by George R R Martin – I’m actually reading this one now. I’m only 30% into it, but I’d love to finish before the next season starts.
    4. Open Minds (Mindjack Trilogy, # 1) by Susan Kay Quinn – There are no excuses. I’ve had this one for years and just not picked it up—even though I’ve heard that it’s good.
    5. Starflower (Tales of the Goldstone, # 4) by Anne Elisabeth Stengle – I’m awful. I got this for review more than 2 years ago. I’ve put off reading it because it’s the 4th in a series and I’ve only read the 1st. BUT I’ve been told that it’s okay to read as a standalone, so I hope to just break down and read it soon.
    6. Untraceable (Nature of Grace, # 1) by S R Johannes – This was a freebie I got a while back that I’m not even sure I’m still interested in. Has anyone read this? Is it good?
    7. Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey – I got this as a birthday present about 2 years ago. I do still want to read it, but my head’s just not there yet.
    8. Praying the Names of God by Ann Spangler – This is another book that I’m slowly making my progress through. I’m actually using this book as a rough guide for the kids’ Bible class that I teach so I’m not racing to just mark it off my list, but boy will it feel good to finally say I finished it.
    9. The Iron Queen (The Iron Fey, # 3) by Julie Kagawa – This is another one that I’ve had over 2 years. I was enjoying the series but so much time has gone by since I read the previous books that I just don’t feel the pull of this one—even though I’ve heard it’s the best in the series.
    10. Lullaby (Watersong, # 2) by Amanda Hocking – My friend Paula got me a signed copy of this book for Christmas about 2 years ago, but I haven’t read it because it’s book 2 in a series and I haven’t read book 1. I’ll get to it eventually.

    Which books have been in your possession the longest that you still haven’t read yet? Let me know!