Review | Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

Title:  Where We Belong

Author:  Emily Giffin

Publish Date:  July 24, 2012

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source:  Purchased at Target

My rating: 4 Stars

The author of five blockbuster novels, Emily Giffin, delivers an unforgettable story of two women, the families that make them who they are, and the longing, loyalty and love that binds them together.

Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.

For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever.  (Goodreads Summary)

My Review:

I have read every book Emily Giffin has written and as I read this one, I came to the conclusion that Emily Giffin’s fiction is my reality. From Baby Proof to this book, Where We Belong, I could have had my name in every book as I have experienced each and every story on some level. Wow! I can’t wait to read what she writes next!

This book is about adoption and the struggles the adoptee goes thru with trying to find where she fits in, the struggles the birth mom goes thru because of the secrets she kept, and even the struggles the families go thru with jealousy, insecurity and even loss. As the mom of three adopted children, this story touched a nerve. (in a good way) I was very worried that this would be another story painting adoption in either a negative light or painting adoption in an overly romanticized light where everyone lives happily ever after with no regrets, or conflict. I was pleasantly surprised with this story, thank you for that.

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Review | Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

Title:  Point of Retreat

Author:  Colleen Hoover

Publish Date:  September 18, 2012

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Website: N/A

Imprint: Atria Books

My Source:  Purchased at BN

My rating:  3 Stars

Layken and Will have proved their love can get them through anything; until someone from Will’s past re-emerges, leaving Layken questioning the very foundation on which their relationship was built. Will is forced to face the ultimate challenge…how to prove his love for a girl who refuses to stop ‘carving pumpkins.’  (Goodreads Summary)

My Review:

This is the second installment to Colleen Hoover’s book Slammed. I couldn’t wait to dive into it – I couldn’t get enough of Lake and Will and I wanted to read what was in store for them in this second book. I have to admit that while the story was still good and the message still the same, I didn’t like this part of the story as much as I liked Slammed. It felt too contrived at times and the drama (especially surrounding whenever Lake and Will would get together) got to be a bit much. I realize this is YA fiction and teenagers eat this up but I just don’t appreciate that kind of drama. That is where believability gets muddied for me.

The characters, Kiersten and Sherry, were quirky, outspoken and just that right amount of sarcastic that made them fun. I enjoyed being introduced to them and learning a little more about them. I especially liked Kiersten, as a 10 year old her maturity was surprising and nicely integrated into the story. It was that type of maturity that I liked in the first book. Kiersten and Sherry were honest and believable. I do wish there was more character development in the two brothers though. I would have loved to read more about what they were going thru and how their new situations were being handled on a more personal level. Overall, this was still a good read and I would definitely recommend it.

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Review | One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

Title:  One Breath Away

Author:  Heather Gudenkauf

Publish Date:  June 26, 2012

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source:  Purchased at Target

My rating: 4.5 Stars

In her most emotionally charged novel to date, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf explores the unspoken events that shape a community, the ties between parents and their children and how the fragile normalcy of our everyday life is so easily shattered.In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom. Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.

Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town’s children in her hands. Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again. Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care. And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.

As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of Broken Branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.  (Goodreads Summary)

My Review:

This is the third book by Heather Gudenkauf and she doesn’t disappoint! She is still one of my favorite authors. Her style of telling a story thru the lives of several characters gets better and better with each book I have read. (and I have read them all).

She had me guessing throughout the book and what I especially liked was the fact that she had me guessing up until the end. Good job! Each character tells their part of the ongoing story as it happens. Sometimes you get a flashback, sometimes you get the present. The transition of the story from character to character was very well done. Not only did you know what was going on (a school was taken hostage by a man with a gun) thru the eyes of every character involved, you also got to know what each character was like, who they were.

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Review | Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Title:  Slammed

Author:  Colleen Hoover

Publish Date:  September 18, 2012

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Website: N/A

Imprint: Atria Books

My Source:  Purchased at BN

My rating: 4 Stars

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.   Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.  Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.  (Goodreads Summary)

My Review:

YA isn’t typically a genre I enjoy or usually read. At this stage in my life, being a wife and mom, I just don’t relate to these types of stories and won’t typically read them. That being said, I really enjoyed this book. The characters had some depth, were likable, and definitely relatable to readers of most ages. What struck me most was the maturity of both main characters their life experience of losing a parent or both parents made them “grow up” and the writing showed this very well in their interactions with each other, as well as others. As the reader, I appreciated their maturity very much, especially in the wake of a very sensitive issue Lake and Will had to overcome. They handled it very well, better than you would expect an 18 and a 21 year old to handle it.

I found myself crying, laughing, then crying some more. At one point, my kids looked at me and asked their dad, “What’s wrong with mom?”. This story kept me wanting more with each turn of events and I was so glad I had purchased Point of Retreat to continue reading about Lake and Will! This story has such a good message, focusing on doing the right thing. I can’t wait until my daughters are old enough for me to recommend this book to them.

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Review | Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

Title: Love the One You’re With

Author:  Emily Giffin

Publish Date: May 13, 2008

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source:  Purchased at Target

My rating: 4 Stars

The New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and Baby Proof delivers another captivating novel about women and the choices that define them. This is the story for anyone who has ever wondered: How can I truly love the one I’m with when I can’t forget the one who got away?

Ellen and Andy’s first year of marriage doesn’t just seem perfect, it is perfect. There is no question how deep their devotion is, and how naturally they bring out the best in each other. But one fateful afternoon, Ellen runs into Leo for the first time in eight years. Leo, the one who brought out the worst in her. Leo, the one who left her heartbroken with no explanation. Leo, the one she could never quite forget. When his reappearance ignites long-dormant emotions, Ellen begins to question whether the life she’s living is the one she’s meant to live.

Love the One You’re With is a powerful story about one woman at the crossroads of true love and real life.

(Goodreads Summary)

My Review:

I have had this on my shelf for four years and can’t believe I hadn’t read it sooner. This book really resonated with me. While it wasn’t exactly something I went thru when I first got married I remember having some of the same feelings Ellen had regarding an intense love. The wondering what if things ended up differently.  Don’t get me wrong, I love how my life turned out. I just remember a time, early on, wondering about that one person I had an intense relationship with and how it didn’t work out.

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Review | At Last by Jill Shalvis

Title: At Last

Author: Jill Shalvis

Publish Date: July 01, 2012

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Website: N/A

Imprint: Forever

My Source: NetGalley

My rating: 4 Stars

HER LOVE HAS COME ALONG . . .
Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she’s looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she’s tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won’t make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.

A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn’t let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can’t deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it’s up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor. (Official Summary)

My Review:

At first I didn’t realize that this was number 5 in the Lucky Harbor series and was a little worried that I hadn’t read the previous books. But, I have to admit that while nice it isn’t necessary to have read the previous books in this series. The author uses each book to describe one out of a group of women who are all friends and who find love in Lucky Harbor. Every woman appears in each book but the story itself relates to only one woman at a time. What I also loved was that the author doesn’t spend a lot of time in the book rehashing who is who, what is what, or why it’s why. Thank you for that! This installment is about Amy, the tough chick who had a rough upbringing and doesn’t trust men easily. She meets Matt, the hot forest ranger, when she gets lost on a hike and he is instantly attracted to her. With some convincing, he gets her to admit she is equally attracted to him and from there the story just gets better. I enjoyed the book and the chemistry between Matt and Amy. If you are looking for a fun, light summer read, this is your series!

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Review | Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Title: Beautiful Disaster

Author: Jamie McGuire

Publish Date: August 14, 2012

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Website: http://www.jamiemcguire.com/

Imprint: Atria

My Source: NetGalley

My rating: 3.5 Stars

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match. (Official Summary)

My Review:

This is another coming of age book where the two main characters are in college. Abby is trying to start a new, different life than what she grew up with, Travis is everything she is trying to get away from. The chemistry is undeniable between the two of them and even though Abby says she only wants to be friends, you know this is bound to turn into something more. The bet is fun – not believable at one point but still fun. Hey it’s fiction, you can’t expect everything to totally be believable all the time right? Travis has some control issues, if he were a real life character, I’d be worried about how jealous and angry he gets when Abby dates someone else. Again, I know this is fiction but what worries me is that the audience is clearly young women and I worry that they may think that this type of behavior is acceptable in a boyfriend/lover. I enjoyed reading Abby’s character – she was very relatable, not indecisive to the point you want to shake her or so insecure you just want to slap her. She knows who she is and what she wants. I like when young women are portrayed this way. Travis, he is a bit much with the control/jealousy but he is likeable. Maybe that isn’t a good thing if you want young readers to not confuse ficion with reality. Overall though, I couldn’t put this down. It is a fun, light summer read.

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Review | Effortless by S.C. Stephens

Title: Effortless

Author: S.C. Stephens

Publish Date: February 25, 2012

Publisher: S.C. Stephens

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source: Borrowed from a friend

My rating: 2 Stars

A continuation of the novel, Thoughtless…

A lot can happen in a year. You grow, you change, you learn from your mistakes. And Kiera had made a lot of mistakes to learn from. But she had learned, and she was determined to never cause a man pain again, especially the amazing man who currently held her heart. But life offers new challenges for every relationship, and when Kiera’s love is put to the ultimate test, will it come out the other side unscathed?

Love is easy…trust is hard. (Goodreads Summary)

My Review:

I had really hoped this book would be better than the first. It literally took me twelve days to get through it and if you know me, I am not a slow reader at all. Many times I would fall asleep shortly after picking it up. The beginning was so slow. I can’t stand when an author takes 1/3 of the book to get me up to speed with what I missed in the first book. Why did I even read the first one if you were going to retell it in the second? When the story did get interesting, after Kellan left, I couldn’t put it down. My favorite movie is P.S. I Love You and Effortless had a lot of what I love about that movie. But then that was it. The story started getting sappy and you could literally see the pretty pink bow that wrapped up the book getting tied and sprinkled with fairy dust. If there is a third, I will not be reading it. This story could have been told so much better, it is a good story. The writing style just wasn’t believable or relatable for me.

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Review | Seven Day Loan by Tiffany Reisz

Title: Seven Day Loan

Author: Tiffany Reisz

Publish Date: July 01, 2012

Publisher: Harlequin UK

Website: http://tiffanyreisz.com/

Imprint: Mills and Boon Spice

My Source: NetGalley

My rating: 3.5 Stars

A trained submissive, Eleanor will do whatever her master commands…even spend a week with a stranger. Daniel has been a recluse since his wife’s death, and Eleanor’s lover thinks spending time with her will be therapeutic—especially since Daniel is also a Dom. Despite her defiant streak, Eleanor can’t resist giving in to Daniel’s erotic demands. But while she’ll let him have her body, she’s determined to keep a guard around her heart. Even if Daniel wants to make Eleanor his permanently…. (Official Summary)

My Review

This story takes place 10 years prior to The Siren and I liked that Eleanor is just as sarcastic, funny and jaded as the older Nora is in The Siren. Eleanor is told she is spending the week with a friend of her master/lover even though she doesn’t want to. She does have hot encounters with Daniel and begins to develop real feelings for him. (He also falls for her) She really liked the emotion/attention she got from Daniel, something that she doesn’t get from her Dom, Soren. The emotional connection between the two main characters is what I liked the most. The only downside is that the book was way too short. The author suggests that you read The Siren prior to reading Seven Day Loan and I do have to agree with her. Things would make better sense if you do – Seven Day Loan is just too short to understand what drives Eleanor. If you get the chance, head over to the author’s site. She has 8 prequels to The Siren and 2 sequels to Seven Day Loan that are also very good.

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Review | Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens

Title: Thoughtless

Author: S.C. Stephens

Publish Date: September 3rd, 2011

Publisher: S.C. Stephens, via Smashwords

Website: N/A

Imprint: N/A

My Source: Borrowed from a friend

My rating: 3 Stars

For almost two years now, Kiera’s boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she’s ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source – a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he’s purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes…and none of them will ever be the same. (Goodreads Summary)

My Review:

Just finished Thoughtless and I am looking forward to reading the second book in this series but I am hoping it goes beyond what I just read. This is a classic love triangle story but the main character, Keira, got a little annoying. I understood that both guys were great/wonderful in their own way (one guy was safe while the other guy was exciting) and Keira had a tough time deciding between the two. But, some of her back and forth indecisiveness got very tiresome. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book/story just got a little tired of Keira.

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