Remembering Grace

As most of you are already aware, we lost one of our own last week. Grace Rebele (Rebel Mommy Book Blog) lost her battle with cancer on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. Grace was such an active member of the book blog community and she'll be missed by so many.


 

Grace and I both started our blogs in March of 2015. One of us always seemed to remind the other of our blogoversaries each year. :) I'd see her post or she'd see mine and it was like, "Oh yeah! It's that time again!" We'd joke that it seemed one of us forgot about it every year.

Grace was also the very first blogger friend I made. I don't recall how I found her blog, but from the very start Grace was kind and friendly and welcoming. Even though we started our blogs within a week or two of each other, I apparently thought she had all the answers and I remember reaching out to her in those early days and asking questions. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that she was always helpful and gracious.

Over the span of four years, Grace was a constant in my blogging life. I think I visited and commented on virtually every post she made and she did the same. Our reading tastes were similar and we both read contemporary novels (women's fiction, romance, YA) almost exclusively. 

It's too hard to think about how young she was - and the devastating loss to her family. So instead I choose to remember her kindness. The fact that she always had something positive to contribute. Her devotion to her three kids and all the soccer games and gymnastics classes she enjoyed with them. Her date nights with her husband. Her love of a good book and a glass of wine. 

I considered Grace a friend. And I will miss her.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

For those interested, Grace's family has requested that any donations be made in her name to METAvivor Research and Support

The Sunday Post #165


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:

Our book blogging community lost someone special this week. I don't feel like this is the right venue to address it (in the midst of book hauls and what I'm currently reading), so I'll share my thoughts another time. But I considered Grace a friend and I will miss her.

  • I don't know what it was about this past week but I was going to bed at the same time as your average third grader*. One night I barely made it to 7:00 pm. I've been feeling run-down in general and I suspect my B-12 levels have bottomed out again. Good thing my annual physical is coming up because I think it's time to start back with the B-12 injections. (*I actually have no idea what time third graders go to bed so who knows if my comparison was even accurate. I apologize to any third graders who were offended by my comments.)
  • I went to a baseball game Friday night which was something new and different. The Husband is on the executive board of a USPS council (it's an ancillary position - he doesn't work for the USPS) and this was a group outing. They rented out the Sky Deck at the baseball grounds, there was a catered dinner, and - surprise, surprise! - the weather was actually perfect! It didn't rain and it wasn't sweltering hot! In fact, we were marveling that it actually felt totally pleasant out - in the mid-70's with a delicious breeze coming off the river. And a beautiful sunset. It made for a fun evening. 
 

  • I saw the trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood this week and almost got teary over it. Wasn't Mr. Rogers part of everyone's childhood in some way? And what perfect casting. Is there nothing Tom Hanks cannot do? I'm sure I'll be at the theater on Thanksgiving weekend watching this one. 



WHAT I READ IN THE LAST WEEK:

  
I'm so thankful Sam sent this one to me. I knew it was going to hurt my heart - and indeed it did - but I loved this story of loss and starting over, friendship and first love, letting go and finding peace and hope.


WHAT I'M CURRENTLY READING: 
    

Even thought the advance reviews/ratings of this one aren't stellar, I love Renee Carlino and am excited to get into this one. I plan on starting it today. 



Nothing this week.






How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share? 
I'd love to hear about it!

Review: Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker

SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME
K.A. Tucker
Publication date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Atria Books and NetGalley



GOODREADS  *  AMAZON








S Y N O P S I S

Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.

On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancĂ©—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counselors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is still alive and strong, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences. 

M Y   T H O U G H T S

Fans of K.A. Tucker: get ready, because she’s done it again. Continuing in the vein of 2017’s Until It Fades, Tucker returns to full-on contemporary romance and she does it so well.

When rich girl Piper was dropped off at summer camp, she was there under duress with only the promise of a brand new car making her agree to eight weeks as a camp counselor. Meeting Kyle on the very first day changed everything. Their instant attraction turned into a summer romance and a connection that neither of them expected. Their differences – Piper’s privileged upbringing and Kyle’s wrong-side-of-the-tracks life – seem to disappear in the suspended animation of hot summer days and nights filled with stolen moments. With plans to continue their romance beyond the end of summer, Piper was crushed when she never heard from Kyle again.

Thirteen years later Piper is a successful businesswoman being groomed to take over her father’s business. Despite the passing of more than a decade, other relationships, and a recent broken engagement, Piper had never forgotten Kyle. She was stunned to see him one morning, in her office building, working as a security guard. And there began their story – or rather, the second part of their story – as both Piper and I had so many questions. Where had Kyle been? Why didn’t he contact her after that summer? Why was he back and working in her building? As the story unfolded with alternating chapters set in the present and the past, I experienced Piper and Kyle’s life-changing summer together while also wondering if there could be a future for them. Would they get a happily ever after – or simply closure for the past?

There was so much to love about Say You Still Love Me. To start with, I’m a sucker for second-chance romance. The idea that true love is meant to be and can survive time and distance and hardships – oh yeah, I’m so there for it. Then there’s the dual timeline – again, I’m a big fan. I love watching a story unfold both then and now, being doled out bits of information, as what happened in the past is slowly revealed. Add in Tucker’s stellar storytelling, characters I truly cared about, all the heart melting feelings of first love, and an overwhelming desire for an happy ending, and you have a recipe for success. There were characters I hated, characters that annoyed me but who I ended up liking, secrets revealed, summer camp hijinks, big business machinations, and family relationships (both good and not so good). Say You Still Love Me is the quintessential second-chance romance and one of my favorite reads of the summer.

4.25/5 STARS

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.

WWW Wednesday #56 | July 24, 2019


WWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.
Just answer three questions and share what you're reading.


Finally a break from the heat! *the crowd cheers*
We have a front coming in that is going to drop 2-6 inches of rain over the next couple days and temps will drop from the high 90's to the low-to-mid 80's. I'm one happy girl! 

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
  

Hope and Other Punch Lines - Julie Buxbaum
The very day I picked this one up I started to feel the slight stirrings of a reading slump. Ack! Nothing at all to do with the book but I promptly set it aside and read absolutely nothing for two or three days. That seemed to do the trick - the little break was just what I needed - and on Monday I started reading this one in earnest. I'm about 120 pages in and even though I'm enjoying it, I'm already convinced it's going to break my heart.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
Lora Richardson did it again and delivered the sweetest, most heartwarming YA contemporary I've read since... well, since she released Vanishing Summer back in March. :) I really loved main character Meredith and I'm already excited for Lora's next release which focuses on a side character from this book. 

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'LL READ NEXT?
  

I still plan on picking up The Last Post when I finish Hope and Other Punch Lines. I'm a little apprehensive because of the rather lukewarm reviews, but I loved what I've read by Carlino so far so I'm hoping to be wowed.

What are you currently reading?
I wanna know! :)

Review: Awakening Autumn by Lora Richardson

AWAKENING AUTUMN
Lora Richardson
Publication date: March 25, 2019
Series: Unexpected Love #2 (can be read as standalone)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: eARC (226 pgs)
Source: Author

GOODREADS  *  AMAZON

*At the time of this post, the first book in Lora Richardson's Juniper series, The Edge of Juniper, is available to download for FREE. And Vanishing Summer is available for just $0.99! Use these links to grab your copies now and experience Lora's heartwarming stories for yourself!*




S Y N O P S I S

Can reality be better than a daydream?

My overactive imagination has wrecked things for me again. Dreaming up the perfect boy and giving him Joe’s face was my first mistake, because he’s just not into me. I have been crushed by my crush, and that will not happen again. I’ve learned my lesson. Any guy interested in me is going to have to do all the daydreaming, all the yearning, and all the pursuing. I’ve set my heart on someone for the last time.

Enter Owen Anderson.

I’ve never been the object of someone’s desire, and that’s fine. It’s no big deal if I graduate high school without my first kiss. I’ll suffer through it if it means I don’t have to feel the sting of rejection again.

The first order of business is to make sure I don’t daydream about anyone, especially Owen Anderson. Owen, who finds me crying in the stairwell over Joe. Owen, who’s there when I learn I won’t be working with Greta and I’m afraid we’ll drift apart. Owen, who sees me at my most overwhelmed by my responsibilities to my family. Owen, who cannot possibly see me as anything other than a walking disaster.

Just once I’d like him to see me strong and capable with decent hair. Not that it would matter if he did, because he’s way out of my league, and I’m not going to let myself think of him in that way. Or think of him at all. Nope. No way. But he keeps showing up, and I keep wondering if maybe, just maybe, Owen sees something more in me than I think he sees.
  
M Y   T H O U G H T S

Lora Richardson cemented her place among my favorite contemporary YA authors – right along with Katie McGarry and Kasie West - with her beautifully written and heartwarming Juniper series. I was immediately drawn to her small-town settings, slice-of-life realism, and characters so relatable they could be the girl/boy next door. She continues to impress with her latest release, Awakening Autumn.

I fanned the flames of my crush for years, only to discover the whole thing was in my head. Any guy interested in me is going to have to be the one to do all that work. I'm done with it.

On the eve of the start of the new school year, Meredith puts her heart on the line with her longtime crush… and learns that he has never once thought of her that way. Embarrassed - and yes, crushed - Meredith decides she’s done pining for a guy who sees her as a little sister. If someone is actually interested in her he’ll have to do the work and let her know how he feels. Enter Owen who is suddenly everywhere she turns. He’s super hot, surprisingly easy to talk to, and seems to love art and reading as much as she does. As they spend more and more time together, Meredith knows she is developing feelings for Owen, but there’s no way she’s going down that road again. Besides, Owen just sees her as a friend… right?


Meredith is a high schooler with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. Her family depends on her to help with her younger siblings as well as around the house. But she was never resentful. She was devoted to her family and such an amazing sister and daughter. I loved that about Meredith. There was nothing petty or ill-tempered about her; instead, she loved her family, loved her friends, was kind and generous and refreshingly self-aware. She had a special relationship with her stepfather and I loved watching the changes in their dynamic over the course of the story. Owen was an absolute sweetheart and my heart went out to him when I learned about his parents and the reason why he lived with his grandfather.

I wanted to be special to someone. I wanted to be someone's person. Someone's one and only.

Richardson writes about characters that are so unlike those that I typically read about in YA. These are not precocious teenagers who act like jaded adults. These are not worldly kids who live their lives without supervision and grow up way too fast. Instead, she creates just the opposite: utterly realistic teenagers who go to school, hang out with friends, have parents who are involved and concerned. These are the good kids, the ones who study and get good grades, who care about their families and generally act respectfully and follow the rules. How refreshing is that?! Richardson manages to infuse her stories with warmth and heart and makes me wonder what I missed out on with my very urban upbringing compared to her small-town settings. She also has an amazing gift at capturing the purest feelings of first love, when just holding hands is thrilling and takes your breath away.

He answered by reaching forward with both hands. Slowly, so slowly he touched my my palms with his fingers, and slid our hands together, locking them in place.

Readers who enjoyed Richardson’s Vanishing Summer will remember Meredith well, along with many other characters, but Awakening Autumn can easily be read as a standalone novel. It’s easy to slip right into Meredith’s life as she navigates family obligations, friendships, and the stirrings of first love. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up: you’ll want Meredith for your best friend, you’ll wish Owen had been your first boyfriend, and you’ll turn the last page with a big smile on your face.

4/5 STARS

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.


ABOUT LORA RICHARDSON:

As a child, Lora lived on a pig farm. She spent time swimming in the creek with snakes, playing in the hayloft, and tapping out stories on her mother's typewriter. These days she lives in a small city in Indiana with her high-school-sweetheart-husband and their two children. She spends her time reading, writing, and hanging out with her people. She still has pigs, though now they are of the guinea variety.

You can find Lora here: * FACEBOOK * TWITTER * GOODREADS * INSTAGRAM *





The Sunday Post #164


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:

  • It was a hectic week at the office and I was wiped out by the end of the week. I purposely made no plans for the weekend and just craved two days to chill and recharge.
  • And because I want to spend as much time as possible chilling and recharging, I'm keeping this post short and sweet this week. :) Hope you're staying cool!
  • Are you doing anything special this weekend? Is it unbearably hot where you are like it is here in Florida? What are you reading this weekend?


Tuesday, July 16
Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors

Wednesday, July 17
WWW Wednesday #55

Friday, July 19
Review: Raze by Roan Parrish


WHAT I READ IN THE LAST WEEK:
WHAT I'M CURRENTLY READING: 
    



KINDLE BOOKS:
Includes: The Upside of Falling, The Downside of Love, 
The Left Side of Perfect, The Right Side of Forever

eARCS FOR REVIEW:





How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share? 
I'd love to hear about it!

Review: Raze by Roan Parrish

RAZE
Roan Parrish
Publication date: July 2, 2019
Series: Riven #3
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQIA
Format: eARC
Source: Loveswept and NetGalley



GOODREADS  *  AMAZON








S Y N O P S I S

For the last ten years, Huey has built his life around his sobriety. If that means he doesn't give a damn about finding love or companionship for himself, well, it's probably better that way. After all, the last thing he wants is to hurt anyone else. Until Felix Rainey walks into his bar, fresh-faced, unbearably sweet—and, for some reason Huey can't fathom, interested in him.

As the eldest of five kids, Felix Rainey spent his childhood cooking dinner, checking homework, and working after-school jobs. Now in his twenties, he's still scrambling to make ends meet and wondering what the hell he's doing with his life. When he meets Huey, he's intimidated . . . and enamored. Huey's strong and confident, he owns his own business—hell, he's friends with rock stars. What could he ever see in Felix?

As Huey and Felix get closer, the spark catches and soon they can't get enough of each other. But Huey's worked hard to avoid intimacy, and Felix threatens his carefully constructed defenses. Huey realizes he needs to change if he wants to truly put his past behind him—and build a future with Felix.


M Y   T H O U G H T S

Huey’s life is all about structure and routine. He found it necessary in the early days of his recovery from addition and now it’s so ingrained he’s afraid to let go of his routines. He runs his bar, he sponsors others in recovery, he goes to the gym and the grocery store. Every minute is accounted for and he clings to that structure, never allowing anyone to get too close even though he’s lonely.

Felix shouldered a lot of responsibility even from a young age. Working while in high school to help support his family, taking care of his younger siblings, getting dinner on the table, helping with homework, and generally being a second parent while his mother worked long hours. Working a dead-end job and feeling unfulfilled, Felix longs for more, both professionally and personally.

I loved seeing these two special people come together – slowly, haltingly - both a little unsure how to proceed. Huey, shut off from everyone for so long, was like a rusty hinge, long neglected and in need of care and attention. Felix was much more open about what he wanted and so willing to put himself out there. He was completely vulnerable but brave enough to pursue Huey and make his feelings known. He was so accustomed to taking care of everyone around him and he craved having someone put him first for once. Watching as he pushed past his uncertainty and told Huey what he wanted and needed… I wanted to simultaneously hug him and cheer for him.

At first glance, Huey and Felix may have appeared to be polar opposites, but where it counted they really wanted the same things: love and acceptance and that special person who allowed them to lay down their burdens and just be. And I enjoyed every minute of their journey to finding that in each other. Parrish managed to create two characters I loved and pulled for and she grounded their story in reality without unnecessary drama.

Raze was a quiet story, very much character-driven, with a focus on personal growth and navigating a new relationship. I loved the focus on building a partnership, learning to communicate in a healthy way, and the respect and support shown within the relationship. Raze is the third book in Parrish’s Riven series but each can be read as a standalone. I had no problem immersing myself into Huey and Felix’s story and appreciated the bits of background given without feeling bogged down by too much of it. If you’re looking for a romance that’s heavy on character growth and full of emotion, you won’t go wrong with Raze.

4/5 STARS

Favorite Parts of Raze:

Felix was such a little cinnamon roll and too precious for words. So sweet and vulnerable but also so brave. It was like he was holding his fragile heart in his hands and saying, "Can you please love me?"

Every time Huey called Felix “sweetheart” I positively melted. He showed his care and concern for Felix in small ways long before he could admit to himself that he had feelings for him.

Huey buying art supplies for Felix and setting up a table for him to work on his dioramas. That show of thoughtfulness was perfection.

Favorite Quote:

"All the times I’d stared at the beautiful lines of his face, the angle of his collarbone, the cowlick in his perfect, messy hair. All the times I’d breathed deeply into his neck, trying to fill my entire being with the sweet, comforting scent of him. All the times I’d felt his heart against mine when I touched him, kissed the corners of his eyes because they seemed like the most intimate place I could think of touching another person. All the times I’d stayed silent so that he would never stop talking to me because I loved the sound of his voice… And he didn’t know. My beautiful Felix thought I didn’t care. And it was my fault." - Huey


Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.




WWW Wednesday #55 | July 17, 2019


WWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.
Just answer three questions and share what you're reading.


It's supposed to be 97 today... and with the humidity factored in it will feel like 107. 
Someone rescue me from this heat! 

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
  
 
Awakening Autumn - Lora Richardson
I've sang Lora Richardson's praises plenty of time here. Her Juniper trilogy is YA contemporary gold and it kills me that the books don't get more attention. Lora started a new companion series earlier this year with Vanishing Summer and her latest release, Awakening Autumn comes out next week. I'm only 20% in and I'm already loving Meredith's story. What girl hasn't had to come to terms with a crush that wasn't ever going to happen? Or realized that your crush wasn't really who you thought he was or wanted him to be? But I have a feeling something someone better is waiting in the wings for this super-relatable girl. :)

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
Say You Still Love Me was such a perfect second-chance romance, which just happens to be one of my favorite tropes. The thought of a teenage summer love that lasts? I was all in for it and Tucker didn't disappoint. 

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'LL READ NEXT?
  
  

I'm still planning on picking up both Hope and Other Punchlines and The Last Post very soon. 

What are you currently reading?
I wanna know! :)