Review: The Start of Something Good by Jennifer Probst

The Start of Something New was a nice start to begin her Stay series. This was definitely a fun, engaging story that I just took in an thoroughly enjoyed. The characters were really good, the storyline keeps you interested and it leaves me curious and excited to see what her second book will all about.

There’s nothing better than good relationships, especially the familial ones. Those always reel me in. They always add a little something special to the book, allowing you to connect with one of them with a similar experience or a resonating personality.

Here is the summary of the book:

An enriching story of family ties, broken hearts, and second chances from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst.

When Ethan Bishop returns to the Hudson Valley, his body and spirit are a little worse for wear. As a former Special Forces paratrooper, he saw his fair share of conflict, and he came home with wounds, inside and out. At his sisters’ B & B and farm, he can keep all his pain at a safe distance. But quiet time isn’t easy when a fiery woman explodes into his life…

It’s business—not pleasure—that brings Manhattan PR agent Mia Thrush reluctantly to the farm. Tightly wound and quick tempered, Mia clashes immediately with the brooding Ethan. Everything about him is irritating—from his lean muscles and piercing blue eyes to his scent of sweat and musk.

But as the summer unfolds and temperatures rise, Ethan and Mia discover how much they have in common: their guarded histories, an uncontrollable desire, and a passion for the future that could heal two broken hearts. But will their pasts threaten their fragile chance at a brand-new future?

Ethan: He definitely had his battle scars. Between his former high profile job as a celebrity bodyguard and his trauma from being a Special Forces op, he definitely has gone through a lot emotionally and physically. Trying to escape, he retreats home to his sister’s B&B but an unexpected encounter challenges everything in his life that he was trying to run away from. His relationship with that develops with Mia is really interesting. That slow breakdown of his wall really draws you into his character.

I loved the relationship that he has with his sisters. They are just such a ray of sunshine to the story. I hope we can revisit them and they get a chance to get into the spotlight. There are some undiscovered storylines that I know will be page turners.

Mia: At first I was like, I don’t know if she is going to be my cup of tea. As the book went on, I grew to enjoy her character. She had that superficial vibe that I thought I was going to have to roll the eyes as I turned the page but I was wrong. Everyone has a story and as her unfolded, and she let her guard down, her personality grabbed my attention. I’m glad she came with the relationship issues that she did because it worked well with Ethan’s issues coming together. It made their storyline more believable. She just came to life being around him and especially around his sisters. Their relationship in the book projecting a positive sisterhood always will be enjoyable to read.

Overall, this was a wonderful start to the series that I can’t wait to see what her second book is about. Loved the characters. There’s more in the subplots that are just as interesting as the storyline of Mia and Ethan but I don’t want to give too much away. There were some steamy moments thrown in there when they finally made a connection but overall nothing to call the fire department about. This gets my recommendation to add to your reading list.

Review: Let Them Thrive by Katie Novak

If you are an educator or a parent I strongly encourage you to read Let Them Thrive. This was a really interesting concept that I believe would really be a game changer in education. I'm curious and would love to sit on a debate or something like it with parents and educators to hear the pros and cons that they feel.

Instead of giving up on some students and categorizing them as unteachable, you find a tangible way to meet them at their level to inspire academic excellence. Not everybody is book-smart. Not everyone is able to retain information in a way that is traditional as to listen and take notes. Some people don't have attention spans and others people are visual people. Some people might be better orally and can listen to the lesson. It all depends on your functional level and whether they use the cognitive part of your brain or somebody that is more face to face.

There are so many other elements to this discussion but from what I’ve read seem to be a great solution to giving kids who lost confidence in themselves by feeling defeated a chance to gain some and be more successful in their educational journey. I assume there are factors involving finances and traditional teachers transitioning away from what they are used to but at the end it’s all about kids all having a chance to be someone to excel rather than for some falling into a statistics category. I’d recommend this for both educators and parents to learn about this concept and hopefully see this implemented. I’d love to hear what teachers out there feel about this. Overall, a very informative book with great takeaways.

Review: Rule #1: You Can’t Date the Coach’s Daughter by Anna Marie Meyer

 Buy on  Amazon

Buy on Amazon

Although an interesting concept, Rule #1: You Can’t Date the Coach’s Daughter felt rushed, overly dramatic and under developed.

The premise of the story is that Destiny “Tiny” Davis’ father is the football coach at her high school and has a very strict rule about her not dating, especially the boys on the football team. One day, Destiny is paired with football player Tyson Blake in class and eventually him and Destiny begin to spend time together.

I went into this book a little unaware of what it was about. I had not read the summary or any reviews for it. I was looking for a cute contemporary YA romance. I had assumed it was going to be about a light forbidden love story. Unfortunately, I got more than I bargained for with this book.

The rule about the football players not being able to date Destiny was reasonable. It was odd that a father was that obsessed with his daughter’s dating life that he would enforce a rule about them not dating his daughter. But I thought it would be more like a playful joke or even a misunderstanding. However, it was not. Destiny’s father was extremely serious about them not dating her. Serious to the point that he would make them run until they puked or even kicking them off the team. That aspect of it all is a little extreme.

There was major pacing issue within this book. There were several instances were it felt rushed and even uncomplete.

Characters

I had a few problems with Destiny. There were times she was a little to hypercritical, especially when it came to her father. And she also would react in the most juvenile way. If she would have just stopped and actually listened, the majority of her problems would have been solved.

The characters in this book were extremely underdeveloped and a tad little cliché. There were not depths to them and it was hard to believe any relationship that they had with each. For example, Destiny and Tyson. Their relationship was not believable at all. It relied heavily on insta-love and heart eyes. And the amount of times Tyson pushed Destiny away was ridiculous.

Final Analysis

Rule #1: You Can’t Date the Coach’s Daughter is not a ground breaking YA novel to write home about.

Review: The Wrong Bachelor by Alexandra Moody

The Wrong Bachelor was not a terrible book. It was actually quite cute in some parts. And I found myself entertained for the majority of the book.

The premise of the book is that Madison (Madi) is unwillingly chosen to be a contestant in a dating competition for her high school. The competition is designed to raise money for charity, which is a plus. However, the prize is the arrogant Cole Kingston; Madison’s enemy.

Although the competition was interesting, it was very unrealistic. I’m not quite sure what high school would encourage their students to participate in The Bachelor style dating competition. Especially one that is going to televised on the school’s website. It seemed very farfetched, but it didn’t cloud my judgement of the book. Some of the activities involved in the competition were cute.

I did have a few issues with the book. One being the disclosure of a secret in the competition. It felt unnecessary, and I get that the author included it so that it did eliminate another love interest, but I would have rather it not be in the book.

Another problem I had was the characterization of the “mean girl.” It felt very stereotypically and predictable. And also, her apology in the end did not feel authentic at all.

The Wrong Bachelor did lean too far in to instalove lane for me. Although, I wanted Cole and Madi to end up together, I would have liked a little more character development intertwined before the “I love you.” Nevertheless, I thought their banter was cute and funny. And I wouldn’t mind reading another book about the two.

I think I would have enjoyed this book more if it had dived a little deeper and was a little more descriptive and also a little meaty. What I mean is, I wished that it had included more character development and also more depth with all the characters. I didn’t necessarily have a problem with Madi as a main character, but she felt like an average YA female main character to me. Same with Cole.

Final Analysis

The Wrong Bachelor is not a terrible read. It does have its cute and fluffy moments, but it does not feel memorable.

Review: I Hope This Reaches Her in Time by R.H. Sin

The girl who deserves the sun is tired of being rained on.

The girl you don’t appreciate will get tired of loving you.

I Hope This Reaches Her in Time is a book of poems that all appear to have been spawn out of the heartbreak. The author appears to have had his heart broken by someone previously.

Although the author had had his heart broken, I did not feel the emotion. The poems lacked depth and fell a little flat for me.

There was no real flow within this book. It was not broken into sections. There were times when the poems would randomly switch from his POV to someone else’s. It took me aback, because I had not been expecting it.

There were a few poems that were not poems. For example, 121914. I didn’t understand the reference nor how it could be a poem. I had wondered if it was a date. The date that author and the mystery girl had met? It was never explained, so I can only speculate.

Although the majority of the poems where forgettable, I did find a couple that I did enjoy. They made me stop and think for a second before I continued on reading.

It is worth mentioning, that I can picture the author’s poems being used as captions on Twitter and Instagram.

Final Analysis

I Hope This Reaches Her in Time is a short book of poems about heart-break. The book does not leave an imprint and does not pack an emotional punch. I didn’t enjoy this book. But that doesn’t mean that someone else would. There may be someone who relates to the author’s heartbreak and can find the poems as a healing aid.

 

Review: Eleanor Courtown by Lucy E.M. Black

When her dear cousin Lily sets sail from the Irish shore where the two grew up as sisters, Eleanor is determined to follow suit in order for them to be together. As an unmarried woman of high birth, she manages her travels only by deceiving her family and withdrawing in secret to Canada. Upon arriving, she is distraught to find her cousin both widowed and, in desperate haste, remarried to a crude and cryptic stranger. Certain that something is amiss, she attempts to pry her cousin and newborn niece homeward, but Lily is unhappily resolved to her new lot in life and the girls’ former relationship seems all but severed. Nonetheless, Eleanor is determined to carry out her familial duty and protect her cousin, even from a distance, at all costs. Alone and in a new country, she attempts to establish a life for herself as she learns to stand on such unfamiliar ground.

Lucy E.M. Black has proved herself a novelist to be noted with the spellbinding narrative which unfolds throughout “Eleanor Courtown”. The epistolary style and impressive dialogue are captivating from the onset. Such skill allows you to slip seamlessly into the prose of the past, whether the backdrop be a richly furnished Irish manor, a humble Canadian homestead, or the convivial parlor of a pair of simple but winsome Innkeepers. The cast of characters are the most charming I’ve crossed in a long while, each with personality as well as a rich past. In addition to being an absorbing drama, the story acted as an interesting, and at times distressing, historical portrait. At its core, “Eleanor Courtown” is a story of love; it tells of its endless facets, both sacrificial and enduring, found in the deeds of strangers and of one’s own flesh and blood alike. There is a comfort to be had in reading this novel, particularly in the person of each character. I wrapped myself up in this book like a warm shawl and enjoyed every minute. It is in all aspects engaging and endearing from the first page to the very last.

Review: The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific by David Bianculli

I was deeply engrossed into this book. I found it to be interesting and I didn’t want to stop reading. The Platinum Age of Television provides a well-researched tale of the evolution of television. The book begins with children’s programs and spends time discussing westerns, sitcoms, and legal dramas and so many other genres.  

The book also includes interviews with prominent television figures such as David E. Kelley, Judd Apatow, and Aaron Sorkin. It was interesting to see what television shows they were influenced by and why they developed the shows that they did.  To prevent overexposure of the individuals rather than the television shows, the author carefully alternated between the two.

There were several individuals and shows that I was not familiar with. For example, Perry Mason or The Shield. I’ve never heard of those shows. However, my lack of knowledge for the shows did not discourage me from reading. The author did a good job of providing a quick summary of what each show was about.

The Platinum Age of Television feels like a textbook. There is a lot of important information within the pages. But unlike some textbooks, it is entertaining. And it also has a clear narration. Everything felt cohesive and correlated.

The book is broken into sections: children’s programs, animation, variety/sketch, soap operas, crime, legal, family sitcoms, workplace sitcoms, splitcoms, single working women sitcoms, sci-fi/fantasy/horror, westerns, spies, general drama, war, miniseries, and topical comedy. It’s a lot of television shows mentioned.

And although there are several topics discussed, never once did I feel overwhelmed with the abundance of information. I actually wanted to go conduct my own research and watch the shows that I was less familiar with.

It would be interesting to see David Bianculli write a follow-up. This book was written in 2016, and already there have been so many new groundbreaking televisions shows that are changing the game.

Final Analysis

The Platinum Age of Television provides an in-depth, entertaining view into the most popular mass medium- television.

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

 Buy on  Amazon

Buy on Amazon

Every once in a while, you find a book that completely change your life. It’s groundbreaking, and after reading, you feel like a completely different person. Somehow better than you were before you had picked up the book. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but I definitely felt that after finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

This is truly a groundbreaking book, and it is a privilege that our world was blessed with this glorious gift. I may sound overdramatic, but I’m being honest. This book changed my life. I’ve heard several rave about this book and after reading I completely get the hype. It was a great book.

The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr Carter and an unfortunate event that forever changes her life. Her childhood best friend, Khalil is tragically killed.

It’s an important and timely story that doesn’t stray away from the tough topics. This is an emotional book, and there were several times were I wanted to cry. It hit me hard in the feels. And really made me stop and take a moment to think about what I just read.

Like mentioned before, The Hate U Give deals with a sensitive and controversial topic. It warrants a conversation that needs to be had. The author handles the subject well. And her writing is incredibly beautiful. It felt real and honest. Almost conversational- like the main character was talking directly to the reader.

Characters

I loved Starr as a main character. I related to her drive and her desire to find the truth. She’s been through a lot and her strength was inspiring. There were several times when she could have stopped, but something inside of her kept her going. It amazing how much this character grew as the book continued.

I also loved Starr and her relationship to her family and friends. It was such a great dynamic that strengthened the book. 

Final Analysis

The Hate U Give is a heartbreaking and emotional book about a serious topic. It’s a wonderful book, and one that everyone should read.

Review: Hotel on Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully

Daniela Tully’s novel, The Hotel on Shadow Lake, was a stunning debut novel that intricately weaves the past and the present in a romantic thriller that will leave the reader unable to turn the pages quick enough. Taking us from the mid 1930s Germany blending the present, we are taken away in a story that is filled with tragedy, heartbreak and the consequences of the times. 

Whenever I read a book that deals with Germany during that time, it always pulls at me a little. It was such a tough time politically and I couldn’t image living where you couldn’t have a voice. The book centered on unanswered questions about the disappearance of Martha Weisberg. When her body is discovered 27 years later, the world of Maya Weisberg flipped upside down. Not understanding how her grandmother ended up in the US, she decides to go on her own to seek answers where she was found. Her journey leads her down a road of buried secrets that unearth the past and bring many answers to light and bring closure to the present.

Overall, this was a really good book especially when you get to read good female characters. The progression of the plot of the book really was a page turner. The balance of the past and the present as the details got revealed really fit together well. You get swept up with the characters of the book and for me there wasn’t a moment that I felt I wanted to put it down. It’s always books like this where the character is driven by a purpose when you can experience it with them well that makes it such a good read. I’m definitely looking forward to see what this author has next. I’m recommending add this one to your TBR!

Review: Let Me Be Like Water by S.K. Perry

Let Me Be Like Water, was a beautiful debut that delve into the innermost sadness of someone dealing with finding functionality in the grieving process. The book has a rhythmic flow that allows the voice of the protaganist to weigh heavy but overtime we experience along side her lightening that burden as she is able to find her way.

If you have ever been in the grieving process, Holly is a character that you will find solace in. If you are lucky to live by a beach, than you know there is nothing more calming and cathartic as the ocean absolving your pain away. The beach paying an integral part in her healing process and being surrounded by friends who have experienced loss as well and who love her and support her, allow her to go through the currents of guilt and sadness to find her joy.

Overall, this book has a different appeal. Before I knew the author was a poet, I had this simple, fluid experience as the words and emotions just glided though every page turn. When you are introduced to Holly, there is a different type of connection that doesn’t allow you to not be connected to her. This book captures many emotions but there is this sentimentality that pulls out towards you that attaches you to the moment. This was such a refreshing, unique experience that I know you will enjoy.