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This Ordinary Life by Jennifer Walkup #BookReview #Playlist #Giveaway

This Ordinary Life
by Jennifer Walkup
Publisher: Luminis Books, Inc.
Release Date: October 1st 2015

Sometimes Hope is the Most Extraordinary Gift of All.

High-school radio host Jasmine Torres's life is full of family dysfunction, but if she can score the internship of her dreams with a New York City radio station, she knows she can turn things around.

That is, until her brother Danny’s latest seizure forces her to miss the interview, and she’s back to the endless loop of missing school for his doctor appointments, picking up the pieces of her mother’s booze-soaked life, and stressing about Danny’s future.

Then she meets Wes. He’s the perfect combination of smart, cute, and funny. He also happens to have epilepsy like her brother. Wes is living a normal life despite his medical issues, which gives Jasmine hope for Danny. But memories of her cheating ex-boyfriend keep her from going on a real date with Wes, no matter how many times he asks her.

Jasmine can’t control everything. Not who wins the internship, not her mother’s addiction, not her brother’s health--not even where her heart will lead her. She wishes she could just have an ordinary life, but maybe what she already has is pretty extraordinary after all.

   

This Ordinary Life is anything but ordinary. The book starts out of the gate with a bang and we really get a taste of what Jasmine is dealing with. This poor girl deserves a break and you can’t help rooting for her success while reading.

My degree is Communications Broadcast Journalism and even though I went into the television side of things I did have a radio show in Middle school, High School and College. So it was fun for me to have Jasmine have this kind of interest. Although I wanted to reach in a say Radio makes no money unless you are big time DJ. Even so I was completely rooting for her from the get go. This is a girl to deserves good things in her life. I don’t think I have ever seen someone pursuing this kind of degree in any other books I’ve read.

I actually like the dynamic of the two boys Wes and Sebastian. The ex and the possible new love interest. It’s not like Seb and her break up and he’s magically out of the picture. I like that she has to actually deal with what he did and even though she is a super strong person, she has the fight off the easiness it is to fall back with someone who has been through so much with you.

Wes and Jasmine’s relationship is adorable and moves slow. It’s cute the way they interact and gradually become friends, which then turns into something else. She hesitant because of her recent break up with Seb and the fact that Wes has the same issues as Danny. It also in a way draws them closer because it’s so much easier when you have someone who really gets it and what it’s like to deal with a chronic disease.

Danny is so adorable, I just want to hug him. When I was younger my brother had absence seizures and actually had to repeat a grade. I still don’t really understand what they were in connection with but I remember him taking a bunch of medication. (I was like 4 so it’s like a foggy memory). I love the fact that Jasmine selflessly takes care of her brother. She has her moments like I shouldn’t be the mom but she never once puts this on Danny. She puts it on her mom which is where it belongs. She has unconditional love for her brother and it’s great to see. I feel so bad he has to go through what he has to.

I enjoyed the book, it’s a sweet story of a girl who has to find a way to prevail over the bad hand she has been dealt. Jasmine is a strong person and her dedication to her brother is amazing.

A couple songs I want to mention. Video Killed the Radio Star is one I always think of with radio things and it's actually mentioned in the book. Friday I'm in Love reminds me of my High School Radio DJ days.

Award-winning author Jennifer Walkup is most often found writing, reading, and spending time with her husband and young sons. A member of SCBWI and RWA, Jennifer also works as an editor and creative writing instructor, and is an advocate for Epilepsy awareness. This Ordinary Life is her second novel.

To hear about Jennifer's upcoming books, sign up for her newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/belmjH

   



Very in Pieces by Megan Frazer Blakemore #BookReview #Playlist #Giveaway

Very in Pieces
by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 29th 2015

Very Sales-Woodruff is done being a good girl. Done being the only responsible one in a family that’s unraveling. Done being the obliging girlfriend in a relationship that’s sinking. Done saying no to what she wants—like Dominic, her rebellious classmate.

With her mom’s drinking, her dad’s extended absences from home, and her younger sister, Ramona, running wild, the path Very has always seen for herself doesn’t seem to matter anymore. At the same time, Very’s grandmother, a poet known less for her work and more for her exploits with the likes of Andy Warhol and Arthur Miller, is slipping away.

If everything else can fall to pieces, why can’t she?

     

Very in Pieces was not necessarily a story I was expecting. I started reading and thought it was going to be this girl who does a big transformation at the beginning of the book because she is angry at life. It’s really not that at all. It’s a great coming of age of a girl who takes a look at her life in light of going off to college and her grandmother being terminally ill.

Very is a math genius and so she sees things in a very analytical way. A square on a canvas is just a square on a canvas. As she spends time with her grandmother in her final days she starts to see that she might have allowed herself to play a character in a story her family wrote. She does what is expected but she isn’t sure what she wants. We see her grow throughout the book not in one giant leap but with small changes.

Very’s family is what the story really centers around. She has her grandmother who is this famous poet, her mother who drinks her problems, her father who is absent and checked out of the family and then her sister Ramona. It goes through the way they handle the grief but also shakes out some other family issues that were floating just below the surface. They all have things to work out.

There are two boys but that’s not really the focus of the story. It’s more like the represent the safe option for Very and the unknown option for her.

I really enjoyed the way Very grows and how the story revolves around her family mainly. There were times it felt a little slow but I was intrigued enough to keep reading. It’s a great book to read to break away from the norm and I finished feeling satisfied with the story.



Megan Frazer Blakemore is an author for children and young adults. She lives with her husband and children in Maine. She has worked in both school and public libraries, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in library science at Simmons SLIS.

   






The Summer Marked by Rebekah L. Purdy #BookReview #Giveaway

The Summer Marked (The Winter People #2)
by Rebekah L. Purdy
Release Date: 09/22/15
Entangled Teen
305 pages
Amazon | B&N | Entangled | Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads:
Salome left humankind behind to be with her boyfriend, Gareth, in the Kingdom of Summer. But now forces of darkness are rising. Her happily-ever-after is coming apart, and the Kingdom is on the brink of war.

Newly-single Kadie Byers is on her way home for Thanksgiving, imagining a visit filled with hot chocolate, a hot guy for a little rebound action, and some girl time with her bestie, Salome. Except she receives a message from Salome with two important words: PLEASE HURRY.

When Kadie rushes to help Salome, she’s ripped from the human world and pulled into the kingdoms of Faerie, where she's shocked to learn that Salome's monsters are real, and that she's now at the mercy of one extremely vengeful Winter Queen...

Now both Salome and Kadie must find a way to survive the deadly chaos...or lose themselves to Winter's deadly, icy grasp.
The Summer Marked reminded me of so many different things. I sometimes thought of the Snow Queen, of course just any Fae story and also a manga/anime called Fushigi Yuugi (mysterious play). All of which are things I love so I’m not complaining.

I was kind of iffy on Salome in the first book. She probably drove me crazy for at least the first half. It wasn’t until Gareth that I really started to like her. This book she seems more mature and braver. She has a confidence about her that is good to see. Although at times there are things she does that I’m kind of like eh but I like how she holds her own. Her eyes are open and she is not so overly trusting. I also love the new friendship she forms with a particular character (I don’t want to give that away).

So we have two friends who have two very different experiences with the Faerie. If you think about it even though Salome has people after her, she also has people falling all over her to protect her. Where Kadie comes in and is forced into the horrors of the Winter court. She has a couple allies but it’s not a gaggle of people and Kadie doesn’t have a connection to Faerie to protect her. I felt so frustrated for Kadie because really Salome is the reason that she is there in the first place and then when she makes an impossible choice everyone just ditches her like well she’s piece of crap. Hello what about all those years she was there for Salome, it made me so angry. Which is funny because normally I would probably be on Salome’s side.

I love Gareth (he reminds me of my manga bf Tamahome) and the addition of Etienne. Oh Etienne, I have high hopes for you. Still can not stand Nevin. Ugh Nevin (I’m shaking my fist in the air).

I love books that evoke emotions from me. There were so many time I wanted to punch Nevin in face, rescue Kadie or tell Salome she was a terrible friend for not at least sending Kadie a letter telling her she left. The Summer Marked absorbed me.

Having the story told from both Salome and Kadie’s POV really gave the book the umph it needed to, in my opinion, outshine the first book. This book does not suffer from sophomore slump and I need to find out what happens with Kadie and Salome but mostly Kadie. There is so much potential for a great outcome.

Rebekah Purdy grew up in Michigan, where she spent many late nights armed with a good book and a flashlight. When not hiding at her computer and getting lost in her stories, she enjoys reading, singing, soccer, swimming, football, camping, playing video games and hanging out with her kids. She loves the unexplainable like Bigfoot, the Dogman, and the Loch Ness Monster (lots of good story material)! She admits to still having all the books she bought throughout her childhood and teen years, and she may or may not have an obsession with anything chocolate…




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Our Little Secret by Ashelyn Drake #BookReview #Giveaway

Title: Out Little Secret
Author: Ashelyn Drake
Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

Becca Daniels needs a passing math grade…but what she wants is to spend more time with Toby Michaels.

The only problem is Toby is her best friend’s twin, and Tori has a very firm “no dating the brother” policy.

But Becca’s grade has hit rock bottom and she needs a tutor. It just so happens that Toby is a math genius and more than happy to help—lucky her! Working so closely with the handsome, popular Toby, Becca can’t hide her attraction, and it soon becomes obvious he feels the same way.

Becca doesn’t want to lose her best friend, but she isn’t willing to give up Toby either.

At first, sneaking around is fun, stealing kisses right under Tori’s nose. But things take an ugly turn when Toby’s ex-girlfriend Meredith catches them together. Meredith demands Toby take her back and restore her reputation, or she’ll tell Tori their secret. Do they dare tell Tori the truth? Or would that just make things worse?

Surrounded by secrets and knee-deep in deception, something has to give…

How far is Meredith willing to go to keep Toby and Becca apart?

And how much is Becca willing to risk to keep…
Our Little Secret?

Our Little Secret is a story about two friends and of course the brother that has the potential to come between him. The premise of the story is cute, Becca and Tori have been friends since they were in diapers. When Becca starts to have feelings for Toby, Tori’s twin, she knows it’s a big no no in Tori’s world. Sometimes you can’t help who you have feelings for and when Toby returns them things get complicated.

Like in life and in most stories it’s always the lies that get you. Becca and Toby start seeing each other in secret because they want to avoid the confrontation with Tori. They figure why ruin a friendship when they aren’t even sure what they have. Although it might seem logical it’s not really a good idea.

Each character has their own individual issues that contribute to their actions. Some are more noticeable when things come out and others you know right off the bat. There is also the drama of the girl who feels like Toby is the guy that got away or was it a trophy boyfriend.

Ashelyn Drake uses a lot of dialogue to tell the story, what I really like is that you get to see the text messages. I don’t why but I always like reading text messages instead of the narrator giving me the rundown of what they say. It makes me more involved in the story.

Becca is really sweet and I really like her character. Tori is kind of that friend that is really pushy but you love them because you know they also your back. Toby has his own skeletons but he comes off as more a playboy to other people.

Becca and Toby’s relationship is cute and I loved reading the parts with them. They had some really adorable moments and of course some pretty normal teenage fights.

I liked Our Little Secret and thought it was really cute coming of age story.

Ashelyn Drake is a New Adult and Young Adult contemporary romance author. While it’s rare for her not to have either a book in hand or her fingers flying across a laptop, she also enjoys spending time with her family. She believes you are never too old to enjoy a good swing set and there’s never a bad time for some dark chocolate. She also writes speculative fiction under the name Kelly Hashway. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.