Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: Paradise City by C.J. Duggan

Paradise City 
(Paradise, #1)
by C.J. Duggan
Young Adult/ New Adult 
Asked to Review
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.91
Published by: Hachette Australia 
Published on: April 28, 2015
Pages: 363

Before I get into my review, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

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?


My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. 

Disclaimers: I received an e-galley of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not obligated to write a good review nor did I receive any compensation for writing this review.

My Overall Thoughts/Impressions:  This book was a complicated one for me. There were certain parts I really enjoyed and others that I just really didn't enjoy. It dipped to 2 stars for me at times, and at other bounced back to a 3.5 Having said that, on the whole it averaged at a 3. 

I don't know why but I had a hard time getting into this book. It just didn't really catch my interest. I've read and enjoyed other books by this author, but this one didn't quite hit the spot for me. 

Having said that, I would be interested in reading the sequel. 

I would have liked to see Lexie stand up for herself more. She just got so swept up in a boy and just didn't really seem to change all that much throughout the novel. Her life started revolving around Luke. I kind of dislike novels like that. 

However, Duggan is a good writer so I kept reading. I think the series has potential. I hope it reaches it with the sequel. 

The Characters: Seemed kind of flat. I already talked about Lexie. The other characters for the most part fit into stereotypes and a lot of them only made appearances when it was necessary. We didn't get to know much about Lexie's best friend or anybody really. 

So why 3 stars? Lots of potential but kind of fell flat for me. 

Warnings/Side-notes: While this does happen in high school, it leans more toward being a new adult novel and I think the rest of the series will definitely be new adult. 

The Wrap-up: A read that a lot of people seem to like but like I said just didn't quite do it for me. 

Love,

Danica Page

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Review: Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman

Finding Me
by Kathryn Cushman
Adult Inspirational 
Asked to Review
Average Goodreads Rating: 
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Published on: April 7, 2015
Pages: 336

Before I get into my review, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. 

Disclaimers: I received an e-galley of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not obligated to write a good review nor did I receive any compensation for writing this review.

My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: I picked this one up because I had previously read a book by her. I thought that the story line was intriguing. What do you do when you realize that your whole life has been a lie? 

Cushman is a good writer and I thought the story was compelling; however, I did feel like it lagged in certain parts. 

Having said that, I think fans of adult inspirational fiction will enjoy this one. It's not overly preachy and it was intriguing. 

Major Strengths: Good writing and an intriguing plot. I also loved the characterization of Rand and Beth. 

Major Weaknesses: I thought that the romance in the story was not very well developed. It seemed kind of sudden. 

So why 3 stars? An enjoyable read but one that didn't quite stand out enough to get 4 stars. 

The Wrap-up: An intriguing book. Cushman always tackles interesting themes. I'll be curious to see what she comes up with next. 

Love,

Danica Page

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Review: From the Start by Melissa Tagg

From the Start
(Walker Family, #1)
by Melissa Tagg
Adult Inspirational Romance
Asked to Review
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.14
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Published on: April 2, 2015
Pages: 352

Before I get into my review, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn't kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays...until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley. 

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend's hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he's lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he's never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it's like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn't part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that's ever happened to them?


My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Disclaimers: I received an e-galley of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not obligated to write a good review nor did I receive any compensation for writing this review.

My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: I hadn't read anything by this author before reading this one. Meaning, I didn't really have any expectations. It just looked cute and I liked the synopsis, so I decided to give it a try.

While this was not my favorite book in this genre, I did really enjoy it. I thought Tagg did a great job of covering interesting themes. This family seems like one that I'm going to enjoy reading about. 

The book was a fast-paced and entertaining. 

The Characters: Kate was an interesting character. She'd had her heartbroken once before and had consequently shut herself off from the world. I loved watching her slowly open back up and her interactions with the town. I would have liked to have more insight into her character; however, I thought she was a strong character.

Cole was another great character. Like Kate, I wished I could have gotten into his head more. I felt like the author could have delved more into his character. 

However, having said that, I did enjoy reading about these characters and the secondary ones as well. 

Major Strengths: Entertaining and well written. 

Major Weaknesses: She could have delved more into the characters' minds. 

So why 3.5 stars? It stood out from the pack; however, it didn't quite reach a 4 star status. 

Warnings/Side-notes: Minor references to drinking. 

The Wrap-up: I think fans of inspirational contemporary fiction will enjoy this one, especially readers who enjoy following a series about a family. It's an enjoyable quick read. 

Love,

Danica Page

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review: Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

Making Pretty
by Corey Ann Haydu
Young Adult 
Asked to Review
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.98
Published by:  May 12, 2015
Published on: Katherine Tegen Books 
Pages: 368

Before I get into my review, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life.

With Arizona wrapped up in her college world and their father distracted by yet another divorce, Montana’s been immersing herself in an intoxicating new friendship with a girl from her acting class. Karissa is bold, imperfectly beautiful, and unafraid of being vulnerable. She’s everything Montana would like to become. But the friendship with Karissa is driving a wedge between Montana and her sister, and the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa’s someone she can really trust.

In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a heady distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life?


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimers: I received an e-galley of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not obligated to write a good review nor did I receive any compensation for writing this review.

My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: This book was nothing like I thought it was going to be like, and in this case, that was a good thing. This book explored some pretty intense issues, but it did so in such an original way. 

While I didn't necessarily love the characters, I loved the writing. Haydu had a great voice and I loved how she told her story. 

I was hooked from page one. There are thousands of realistic young adult novels, but this one stood out for me. 

I would have liked a more detailed conclusion. A lot of things were left opened. However, I actually didn't mind all that much. The ending fit the theme of the novel in my opinion. 

If you like books that are different and make you think, then I'd definitely recommend this one. This novel was very thought-provoking.

Major Strengths: The voice she infused into her novel. The originality. 

Major Weaknesses: At parts the story dragged. 

So why 4 stars? It was unique and thought-provoking. 

Warnings/Side-notes: Vague sexual references, several instances of strong language. 16+. 

The Wrap-up: I'll be interested in reading more by this author. 

Love,

Danica Page

Monday, May 11, 2015

Review: Unconditional (Always, #1) by Cherie M. Hudson

Unconditional
(Always, #1)
by Cherie M. Hudson 
New Adult 
Asked to Review
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.86
Published by: Momentum 
Published on: February 12, 2015
Pages: 252

Before I get into my review, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

She has a future she can’t escape. He refuses to let her face it alone.

Twenty-one. The age when adult life begins. In my case, it’s the age I learned my future sucked, big time, and there was nothing I could do about it. Every minute of every day I face the fact my life is only going to get worse. Why? Because I have early-onset Parkinson’s Disease. I’m not going to let it get me down, but I also can’t let anyone close. That’s not fair to them, or to me. Trust me. So that means my heart and my soul, is off-limits.

But then I traveled to Australia on a college scholarship program and life royally screwed me over. Again.

Raphael Jones is an arrogant Australian celebrity, the hottest guy on campus and a pain in my ass. Worst of all, he makes me ache for a life I’ll never be able to have. Especially when he takes me in his arms and does wicked things to my body.

How do I have a hope of surviving ten weeks in Australia when it’s not just the paparazzi who have me in their sights, but Raph as well? Because Raphael Jones is a man who always gets what he wants. And no matter what I say or do, he refuses to accept what I so painfully know: a life and future with me is no life at all.


My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. 

Disclaimers: I received an e-galley of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not obligated to write a good review nor did I receive any compensation for writing this review.

My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: I have mixed feelings about this book. In some ways it was a 2 for me and in others it was a 4. I thought the author tackled an interesting topic. Parkinson's disease made for a great backdrop to a book. I have heard a lot about this disease, but don't know much about it. I thought the issues that the author brought up in regards to this disease were interesting and these parts were well written. 

What I didn't like was the characterization of the characters. The relationship between Raphael and Maci felt forced. Also, as I'll discuss in more detail below the writing style didn't quite mesh with me. 

The Characters: Maci is a character I sympathized with. She has Parkinson's and her mom suffered from it and her dad died. I wanted to like her a lot. Instead, I found her behavior to be sort of stupid and frustrating. She didn't communicate a lot. And I felt like she really did let her disease define her. Having said that, I get that she probably has reasons to feel that way and to behave in a stupid manner. This made for a complex character and one that I enjoyed reading about. 

Raphael- hot Australian guy made famous by association. I wanted to know more about him. I thought he was pretty one-dimensional. Whereas, Maci was complex, he seemed flat.

I thought the relationship between them felt forced. While I was rooting for them, I couldn't fully invest in their relationship. 

Major Strengths: Originality and voice. The author did a great job of giving the character a unique voice. The book also was thought-provoking. 

Major Weaknesses: The character talked to the reader. I don't know why but books that do that always irk me. Also, it was an insta-love novel and the relationship between Maci and Raphael didn't quite work for me. 

So why 3 stars? While I enjoyed it and thought the plot was interesting, the fact that the character talked to the readers knocked this down to a 3 for me. 

Warnings/Side-notes: It's for 17+. It's New Adult, meaning there are several sexual references and swearing. It's in the middle as far as new adult goes. I've read much cleaner and much more detailed novels. 

The Wrap-up: It's a book that talks about a deep issue and really made me think; however, certain parts were just cheesy and almost painful. On the whole, and enjoyable book and one I'm glad I read. I would suggest to fans of the genre. However, if insta-romance bugs you, probably pass on this one. 

Love,

Danica Page

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

A love Like ours 
(Porter Family, #3)
by Becky Wade
Adult Christian Inspirational
Asked to Review
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.54
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Published on: May 5, 2015
Pages: 352

Before I get into my review, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Becky Wade Is the New Name to Know in Contemporary Romance

Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. 

Disclaimers: I received a print copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not obligated to write a good review nor did I receive any compensation for writing this review.

My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: I adore this cover. I don't know what it is about cowboy stories; they get me every time. Then you add a tortured cowboy...of course I have to read it.

Cover lust aside, I actually really did enjoy this novel. Wade did a great job of creating lovable characters and a plot line that kept me intrigued the entire time. 

I loved the chemistry between Lyndie and Jake. This story just drew me in from the first pages. I also enjoyed how the author got past typical stereotypes and dug into some deep issues. She tackled PTSD and disabilities. It made for some interesting reading. 

The Characters: Jake is the tortured cowboy. However, I thought that Wade did a great job of avoiding stereotypes. Jake was a nice guy and I enjoyed watching him open up throughout the novel. The author didn't delve too much into those issues (not as much as some authors), but I still thought she did a good job. 

Lyndie was a cute character. I think Lyndie is the type of person who'd make a great friend. She was cute, nice, funny, and ambitious but at the same time family-oriented. I liked that. 

Major Strengths: Writing style and plot line. 

Major Weaknesses: Predictable and the story dragged at times. 

So why 4 stars? It stood out from the crowd. I really enjoyed this one. 

Can I read the series out of order? Yes, I did. I didn't feel lost. 

Warnings/Side-notes: None. 

The Wrap-up: A great enjoyable read. I'll definitely be keeping tabs on Wade. 

Love,

Danica Page

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Review: Married 'til Monday by Denise Hunter

Married 'Til Monday 
(Chapel Springs, #4)
by Denise Hunter 
Adult 
Asked to Review
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.73
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Published on: June 9, 2015
Pages: 320

Before I get into my review, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

With a big anniversary party in the works for her parents, Ryan will pretend to be Abby's husband for just one last weekend.

Ryan McKinley has tried to move on from his ex-wife, Abby. He’s sulked, he’s gotten angry, and ultimately he bought her dream house. Big mistake. Living alone in the massive 2-story has only made him miss her more. When her parents call him out of the blue about their anniversary party in Summer Harbor, Maine, Ryan believes God has dropped a golden opportunity straight in his lap.

Abby McKinley never exactly told her parents about the divorce. A strained relationship with her dad has culminated in a distant relationship with her parents, but she’s finally succumbed to her mom’s pressure to make the drive for their 35th-anniversary party.

Then Ryan shows up on her doorstep, looking as devastatingly handsome as ever. When he insists he’s going to Seabrook, with or without her, Abby knows she can’t say no. Her parents still think they’re married and now Ryan knows it too. Besides, he only wants to check in with his best friend from college—her cousin Beau, who just lost his dad. It’s just a one-week road-trip with the man who broke her heart. What could possibly go wrong?


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. 

Disclaimers: I received an e-galley of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not obligated to write a good review nor did I receive any compensation for writing this review.

The Characters: Abby and Ryan were two intriguing characters. I loved how real they felt and the depth Hunter put into making them. They both have problems, concerns, dreams, flaws, and strengths. The characterization of them was nearly flawless in my opinion.

If you love novels based on characters, this one is a great fit for you. 

My Overall Thoughts/Impressions:  I was super excited to read this one because I have loved the previous in the series. Hunter is easily one of my favorite authors. Her stories are just so cute and they seem so realistic. Yes, they might be a little bit cheesy and predictable, but I will admit that I still loved it. 

The plot was one that left me hooked from the beginning. I love second chance romance stories. Abby and Ryan used to be madly in love, and then everything when down in flames. Years later, there's still chemistry. 

I adored the novel. This novel is perfect for fans of romance, christian fiction, or just fun stories. 

So why 4 stars? I adored it. It had me laughing, crying, smiling, and wanting to shake characters at times--in a way that only great novels can. It wasn't quite 5 stars. But it was pretty close. Definitely recommended. 

Can I read the series out of order? Yes, the novels read as stand-alones, but all of them are so great you'll want to read them all. 

Warnings/Side-notes: Tame references to sex, violence, and drinking. Recommended for 14+. 

The Wrap-up: A great novel. I'm sad to see the end of this series but am excited to see what the author comes up with next. 

Love,

Danica Page

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Review: Where You End by Anna Pellicioli

Where You End
by Anna Pellicioli 
Young Adult 
Asked to Review
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.04
Published by: Flux 
Published on: June 8, 2015
Pages: 312
Buy on Amazon

Before I get into my review, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Miriam Feldman was always attracted to the artists, the musicians, the boys who wore broken-down cardigans. Boys like Elliot. Their relationship was intense, passionate, all consuming. When they were together, Miriam knew who she was, in the way you can only know when you're deeply in love. But then it ended, and Miriam had to move on. Even after Elliot started seeing someone else. Even after she impulsively destroyed a priceless work of art. Even after she was blackmailed by the mystery girl who saw her do it. After all this, Miriam had to go on with her life. If only she knew how.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. 

Disclaimers: I received an e-galley of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not obligated to write a good review nor did I receive any compensation for writing this review.

My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: Some parts of this book I'd give a 4; others a 2. There were certain parts that were really jumpy and fragmented. I had to reread to figure out what had happened. It kind of bugged me. 

However, having said that. I thought for the most part the writing was great. I enjoyed her writing style other than the fragmented sections. 

The book is not a romance novel. I love romance, but it was nice for a change to read a book where romance wasn't the focus. So if you like books that don't focus on romances, then pick this one up. 

I thought that Pellicioli did a great job with getting into her character's head. I didn't really like Miriam as a character. But I did like reading about her. The story was interesting. 

The Characters: Miriam is depressed. She loved and lost. Now, she's just lost. This book is about her journey to self-discovery. I thought the writer did a great job at portraying her, but I had a hard time connecting with her. 

"Paloma" was a mysterious character. She intrigued me. I loved her interactions with Miriam. I don't feel like we ever got to know much about her. However, I did like this character. Like Miriam, she was very complex, but I liked her. 

All of the other characters felt a little bit one-dimensional to me. 

Major Strengths: Interesting plot and theme. I thought the writer crafted a great story. I enjoyed her writing style for the most part. 

Major Weaknesses: At times, the writing felt really choppy and fragmented. That was a major weakness in my mind. 

So why 3 stars? Some parts were a 4 and some were a 2. That averages at a 3. The major fault was the fragmentation of the novel.

Warnings/Side-notes: For 15+. I can't remember exactly what happened in the story as far as language goes. However, I feel like in general 15+ would be a good limit. 

The Wrap-up: An interesting read that was different from other books I've read in the genre. It stood out of the crowd. However, it was definitely a little bit too choppy for me in certain places. 
Love,

Danica Page

Friday, May 1, 2015

Review: The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble

The Inn at Ocean's Edge
by Colleen Coble 
Adult Inspirational Romantic Suspense 
Asked to Review
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.33
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Published on: April 14, 2015
Pages: 336

Before I get into my review, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

A vacation to Sunset Cove was her way of celebrating and thanking her parents. After all, Claire Dellamore's childhood was like a fairytale. But with the help of Luke Elwell, Claire discovers that fairytale was really an elaborate lie . . .

The minute she steps inside the grand Inn at Ocean's Edge, Claire Dellamare knows something terrible happened there. She feels it in her bones. Her ensuing panic attack causes a scene, upsetting her parents. Claire attempts to quiet her nerves with a walk on the beach, to no avail. She's at too great a distance to make out details, but she believes she witnesses a murder on a nearby cliff. When local police find no evidence of foul play, they quickly write off the "nervous" woman's testimony as less than credible.

But Luke Elwell, home on leave from the Coast Guard, has reason to believe Claire. Years ago when his mother went missing, Luke's father suspected she'd been murdered. He died never having convinced the police to investigate. So when an employee of the grand hotel doesn't show up for work, Luke steps in to help Claire track down the missing woman.

As Claire and Luke put together the pieces of a decades-old mystery, they discover that some family secrets refuse to stay buried. And some passions are worth killing for.


My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. 

Disclaimers: I received an e-galley of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not obligated to write a good review nor did I receive any compensation for writing this review.

My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: I've had a hit and miss relationship with Coble's books. I have either loved them or hated them. I was curious to see which category this book fell into. 

The book started out kind of slowly for me, which is surprising considering all the action that happened so quickly in the novel. However, it quickly picked up the pace. 

I thought that Coble did a great job at creating an enjoyable novel to read. She did a great job of weaving complex plot lines. She also did a great job at writing about religious elements without doing so in a way that was overkill. 

I thought that this was one of Coble's better novels. 

The Characters: Coble didn't actually tell us a lot about the characters' personalities or beliefs. We learned about past events that happened to them and their reaction to current situations, but I never felt like I learned all that much about the characters.

However, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I still enjoyed the characters. Claire was a sympathetic, nice character who I could relate to. I would have liked more insight into her character, but I liked the glimpses we saw.

Luke was another character that I really liked. Once again, we didn't get much insight into his character. However, I felt like I knew more about him than Claire. I loved his willingness to sacrifice and to help others.

I thought the characters were a little bit one-dimensional, but I still enjoyed the story. 

Major Strengths: A well developed plot line, interesting characters, and a great grasp of writing. 

Major Weaknesses: Predictability and one-dimensional characters. 

So why 3 stars? All in all, I did really enjoy this novel. However, it didn't really have anything extra special to make it stand out in my mind. Having said that, I did enjoy it though. 

Warnings/Side-notes: Several instances of violence. 

The Wrap-up: An enjoyable read. Maybe a little one-dimensional, but I still liked it. 

Love,

Danica Page

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