Saturday, August 27, 2016

Review: Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan

Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan

Series: Breathing #1

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Release Date: May 2011

Format: Trade Paperback

Source: Purchased

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon


"No one tried to get involved with me, and I kept to myself. This was the place where everything was supposed to be safe and easy. How could Evan Mathews unravel my constant universe in just one day?"

In the affluent town of Weslyn, Connecticut, where most people worry about what to be seen in and who to be seen with, Emma Thomas would rather not be seen at all. She’s more concerned with feigning perfection while pulling down her sleeves to conceal the bruises - not wanting anyone to know how far from perfect her life truly is. Without expecting it, she finds love. It challenges her to recognize her own worth - but at the risk of revealing the terrible secret she’s desperate to hide.

Reason to Breathe is an electrifying page turner from start to finish, a unique tale of life-changing love, unspeakable cruelty, and one girl’s fragile grasp of hope.

My Thoughts

I'll start by saying that Reason to Breathe was not what I was expecting. And I'm sure I allowed that to somewhat color my feelings for the book. For some reason I had been convinced for years (ever since I first bought a copy and placed it on my bookshelf where it sat for at least two years) that this was a new adult book. So I was geared up for plenty of grown-up relationships and drama. However, Reason to Breathe is decidedly young adult and instead provided plenty of high school relationships and drama. Not a bad thing but, like I said, I was totally expecting something else and I spent the entire book trying to adjust.

Sixteen year old Emma lives a life of secrets. With her mother unable to care for her, she lives with her aunt and uncle. Instead of a stable home life, away from the chaos of life with her alcoholic mother, she endures constant verbal and physical abuse from her aunt who resents her very presence. Emma refuses to report the abuse for fear that her young cousins would suffer the consequences and lose a mother who, to them, is loving and caring.

I survived by keeping my emotions in check - by maintaining my composure and tucking it all away. - Emma
Then the handsome and persistent Evan enters her life and suddenly Emma is willing to risk the delicate balance she maintains in order to experience the headiness of a new relationship. Evan was a sweetheart and it felt completely realistic that Emma would be willing to risk so much for a chance at some normalcy and excitement. Her friend Sara, initially the only one who knew the secret of Emma's home life and having been sworn to secrecy, was a good friend and did what she could to help Emma. However, there did come a point where I wished Sara would ignore Emma's demands and just tell someone. As the abuse at home escalated, and Emma remained resolute to keep the peace and just bide her time until she could leave, I was desperate for her situation to change by any means necessary.
My world was delicately balanced, but the scales never hung even. When something improved, something else had to crumble. Accepting this would be the hardest thing I'd ever had to learn, and even when I came to know it as true, it still crushed me. - Emma
My issue with Reason to Breathe is that often it seemed the relationship drama took center stage over the very serious abuse happening behind closed doors at home. I loved that Emma was getting a small taste of freedom, spending time with Evan, going to parties with her friends - but chapter after chapter would go by with her home life being glossed over and all the focus on time spent with Evan, jealousies over other girls, and other drama that seemed petty in comparison to what Emma was dealing with at home. This may be a by-product of my initial thoughts that this was a new adult novel and so the high-drama of the high school set felt more pronounced, but it's something I noticed again and again.

I enjoyed Emma as a character and admired her strength and self-sacrifice (even though she took the self-sacrifice to dangerous lengths). And Evan was such a wonderful addition to Emma's life. Once he started to suspect/know what was happening to Emma he was desperate to protect her. This wasn't a case of knight-in-shining-armor or boy-saves-the-day but just a boyfriend horribly worried about his girlfriend and feeling helpless to make her safe. There was a definite push and pull to their relationship. Emma was determined to keep Evan at arm’s length in order to keep her home life a secret, but at the same time she was craving the closeness and the genuine care and love that Evan had for her.

"I love that picture," he admitted softly. "I think it's because I love the girl in that picture." - Evan
I grew frustrated with Emma when things ended with Evan and she started seeing Drew. She felt the need to break up with Evan because she could not afford to have anyone close to her and learn her secret. So why didn't the same hold true for Drew? It made no sense and had me wanting to throttle Emma for being so capricious. Thankfully Evan was as patient as he was sweet and loving. 
"I don’t know how to fit you into my world without hurting you too.” The truth in my words revealed more than he’d ever know.
“Don’t worry about hurting me,” he said calmly. “I like being a part of your world, and I understand that it’s more complicated than you’re willing to share with me. But I’ll respect that for now.”
And then that ending, oh my goodness. I was so hopeful… and then that cliffhanger. I definitely want to pick up the second book in this trilogy soon and learn what becomes of Emma. It helps that Donovan’s writing flows so easily and pulls you into the story from the beginning. She has a way of eliciting an emotional response without falling into mawkishness. And I’m sure there’s plenty more emotion to come as the series continues. I can only hope there’s a happy ending at the finish.
3.75/5 Stars 
Have your expectations of a book ever changed how you felt about it? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I'll Read Before the End of the Year (Pinky Promise!)

Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at GingerReadsLainey.
Click HERE for a complete list of participants and future topics.
This week's Top Ten Tuesday and Top 5 Wednesday themes have dovetailed quite nicely. Thumbs up for synchronicity. :) Yesterday's TTT topic was all about books that have been on the ol' TBR since before we started blogging. Today's T5W theme is the books you plan to read by the end of the year. One kind of leads to the other, no? So while I could just post the same list of books I shared yesterday... where's the fun in that? 

Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses was one of my biggest surprises last year. Fantasy is *not* my genre but I took a chance and it paid off big time. I'll need to brush up up some details from ACOTAR before I dive into ACOMAF, but I can't wait to continue the story.

Tillie Cole
I've never read anything from Tillie Cole and even though this one doesn't seem to be representative of her usual genre/style, this is the one I'll be starting with. Because I can't resist a good tearjerker. Ever.

Jennifer Weiner
I was so excited about this book last year that I just had to have it. Not only that I just had to have the pretty UK edition. Aaand... there it still sits on my bookshelf - but not for much longer. My friend Hope loved this one and I'm positive I will, too. 

Elle Kennedy
Am I officially the last person who has not read The Deal? I am, right? With my love of good new adult, I can't believe I've managed to put this one off as long as I have but it will happen by the end of the year.  

Renee Carlino
Another one that I just had to have last year. And then didn't read it. But when I read an ARC of Swear on This Life, I knew I needed to read everything Renee Carlino has written. So Before We Were Strangers will be first on that list.

What book are you determined to read by the end of the year?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: No, I Still Haven't Read It (The Pre-Blogging TBR of Shame)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme 
As soon as I read this week's Top Ten Tuesday theme I could feel book bloggers everywhere cringe. Like there was a disturbance in the Force. We're being called out on the books that have been on our TBR (or bookshelf) since before we  started blogging... that we still haven't read. And I know I wasn't the only one cringing. :) Let's be real, we all know there's waaay more than 10 books on the list but we're showing restraint for Top Ten Tuesday. So here we go: 10 books that were on my TBR even before I started blogging that I can't believe I *still* haven't read. 
The Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead
Archer's Voice - Mia Sheridan
Making Faces - Amy Harmon
The Selection - Kiera Cass
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo
The Edge of Never - J.A. Redmerski
Cinder - Marissa Meyer
The Sea of Tranquility - Katja Millay
Falling Kingdoms - Morgan Rhodes
Have you read any of these books?
Is there one that I need to read immediately?
What book has been on your TBR the longest?

Monday, August 22, 2016

New Release Review: Show Me How by Molly McAdams

Show Me How by Molly McAdams

Series: Thatch #3

Genres: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 23, 2016

Format: Kindle

Source: Edelweiss

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon


After her first love was ripped from her grasp four years earlier, Charlie Easton was sure she would never be able to trust anyone with the shattered pieces of her heart again. That is, until Deacon Carver forces himself into her life, and makes those pieces swirl in chaos. But Charlie doesn't know how to let him in… until a stranger stumbles upon a notebook filled with her innermost secrets, and shows her how.

Deacon Carver is known for sleeping his way through the town of Thatch, as well as the surrounding cities—something he used to take pride in. But that persona has haunted Deacon ever since he decided to leave that life behind for the girl he wants more than anything: Charlie Easton.

But when another girl falls into Deacon's life, allowing him to be himself without judgment for his past, will their conversations hinder his relationship with Charlie… even if he's never seen her?
My Thoughts

Show Me How is a wonderful addition to Molly McAdams’ Thatch series. In it we get to delve into the lives of characters that we know from the previous books in the series – Charlie and Deacon. The road these two have to travel to find their way is an emotional one, filled with missteps, but so, so rewarding.

Charlie has returned to Thatch after college and is focused on one thing and one thing only: getting custody of her three year old son, Keith. She gets a job, she sets up a home for she and Keith, doing everything required to make sure Keith is finally hers even as she continues to grieve for Ben, Keith’s father and her only love. Being back in Thatch brings her face to face with Deacon and her heart is telling her that maybe she can love another. 

"As I grew up and my reading material grew with me,
 my standards for my Prince Charming morphed, but
 never lessened. I was so sure I would find my Prince Charming, 
even if he wasn't as princely as I'd dreamed when I was a little girl."

Deacon has always been known among his friends as the king of the one night stands. A guy who’s had to stretch his conquests beyond the bounds of Thatch because he’s slept his way through most every girl there. He’s not even sure that love really exists – certainly not for him. So why is it that he can’t stop thinking about Charlie?

The growth in both Charlie and Deacon was so well done and I loved seeing how far they’d come, even though it wasn’t an easy journey. Through misunderstandings and mistakes and fears, two people who were convinced that a forever love was not possible, find their way to just that.

I enjoyed the fact that previous characters in the series played such prominent roles in Charlie and Deacon’s story. Jagger and Grey, Knox and Harlow, Graham – they were all here and made for such a richer story. And then there was Keith. I’ve never been a fan of small children in books. They are usually too precious and too precocious for words and the over the top cute factor leaves me cold. Not so here. Keith was a little bundle of energy and laughs and was so adorable that I couldn’t help but be completely charmed. His talk of ‘supapowers’ with Deacon made me smile every time and whenever he mentioned ‘the grassy place’ my heart hurt. McAdams managed to make Keith a completely believable three year old little boy that lit up every scene he was in.

The epilogue was just perfect and had me teary-eyed. The fact that it was in Deacon’s point of view made it that much more poignant. I’m sad this is the last entry in the Thatch series because I would love to return to this cast of characters again and again.

3.5/5 Stars

Note: Show Me How is the third in a companion series. It can be read as a stand alone but I recommend reading the series in order for a richer experience and to better understand the relationships between characters.

* I received an advance review copy from William Morrow via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Sunday Post #22

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news - a post to recap the past week on your blog, 
showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is
coming up on your blog in the week ahead. You can find the info here:

Happy weekend! This past week has been a return to normal. I went back to working full days at the office after having worked half days for the past two weeks. It felt great to get back into a regular routine. And on Saturday my husband and I spent the whole day together: lunch at one of our favorite spots, ran some errands, went to Hobby Lobby (which ended up being a bust - I didn't find anything I was looking for), and had a late dinner of some truly delicious seafood. I even found some time to play with my books and did some rearranging and reshelving. Day made. I capped off the night by hanging out in my reading room and, not reading, but coloring to my heart's content. Playing with pretty pictures and colored pencils while surrounded by books? Perfect end to the day. :)

Oh, and my August Bookworm Box was delivered on Wednesday - much earlier than expected. Best mail day of the month!

Tuesday, August 16: The week's Top Ten Tuesday them was all about book settings and I went with one of my favorites: Southern settings. And based on the comments I'm not alone in my love for books set in the South!

Thursday, August 18: That's What He Said Thursday has long been one of my favorite memes so I loved getting back into the swing of things this week with a new TWHST post. The Addicted series is simply bursting with fabulous quotes so there's no shortage to chose from. This week I chose one from Ryke Meadows and I got all the feels again just making the graphic for the post. Swoon!

Saturday, August 20: On Saturday I shared a few of my reading rituals as part of the #ShelfLove Challenge. These included such earth-shattering insights as choosing the right bookmark and having loads of page flags on hand. ;-)


Be With Me (Wait For You #2) - Jennifer L. Armentrout
The Proposal (Wait For You #2.5) - Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Crown's Game (audio) by Evelyn Skye
Some Kind of Perfect - Krista & Becca Ritchie


It Ends With Us - Colleen Hoover
Love In Rewind - Tali Alexander

I received a signed copy of It Ends With Us in my Bookworm Box so I now find myself with an extra copy (the one I pre-ordered). Be on the lookout for a giveaway soon!



Some Sort of Happy - Melanie Harlow

How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share? 
You know I want to hear about it! :)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

August #ShelfLove Challenge: Reading Rituals

August topic: What are your reading rituals? Do you have a reading nook? What snacks or drinks must you have handy? Share pictures and recipes!

A comfy chair is a must. Preferably one with a view of All The Books (or at least some of the books).

No food while eating (no sticky/greasy fingerprints on the pretties!) but a drink is always a good thing. A glass of sweet iced tea, a bottle of water, or (during the 9 days of winter Florida gets each year) hot chocolate hits the spot.

Of utmost importance: choosing the right bookmark to go with each book. This is completely arbitrary and cannot be explained. It's a special gift, people.

Have an adequate supply (i.e. stockpile) of page tabs at the ready. Enthusiastically tab every swoon-worthy line of dialogue, every dramatic scene, every moment that Cannot Be Forgotten.

Update GoodReads obsessively. As soon as I start the book, as I'm reading the book, as soon as I finish the book. Obviously everyone needs to be appraised constantly of my progress.

Do you have any reading rituals? Let's discuss!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

That's What He Said Thursday #23

That's What He Said Thursday is a weekly meme created 
and hosted bChapter Break. It's a fun way to share a quote 
from a favorite book boyfriend (aka male protagonist) to his girl.
For more info, visit Chapter Break here.

When it comes to the Addicted series, it's almost impossible to play favorites. I admit to a serious soft spot for Lily and Lo, but honestly I love all couple (and all three guys) for different reasons. When it comes to Ryke, his love for Daisy is fierce and strong and it's hard to imagine two people who complement each other better. 

Long Way Down by Krista and Becca Ritchie
Addicted series #3.2, Calloway Sisters series #4

What is your favorite book or series with an ensemble cast?